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Brussels, 19 October 1999

Commission acts against Luxembourg, Sweden and Ireland for failing to comply with EU health and safety laws

The European Commission has decided to issue reasoned opinions against Luxembourg, Sweden and Ireland on the basis of Article 226 of the EC Treaty for failing to comply with EU health and safety Directives.

Luxembourg : non-conformity of national measures transposing the health and safety framework Directive

A reasoned opinion will be sent in the near future to Luxembourg for their failure to correctly implement Article 7 (8) of the Framework Directive on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (1).

This provision requires the Member States to define the necessary capabilities and aptitudes of the designated workers and the external services and persons consulted as regards the protection and prevention of occupational risks.

Sweden : non-conformity of national measures transposing the manual handling of loads communication's Directive

A reasoned opinion will be also sent to the Swedish regarding the failure to fulfil its obligation under the EC Treaty and the provisions of Article 3(1) and Article 4 together with Annex 1 of the Directive 90/269/EEC on the minimum health and safety requirements for the manual handling of loads where there is a risk particularly of back injury for workers (2).

Article 3(1) of the Directive requires the employer to avoid all manual handling of loads wherever possible is not restricted to just certain specific actions, or to the transport of particularly dangerous or unnecessary loads, but extends to any form of handling which carries a risk of back injury. According to the Commission the Directive created a clear and precise obligation on employers which should be expressly implemented into national law.

As regards Article 4 together with Annex 1 of the Directive the Commission contends that Sweden failed to ensure that in assessing the health and safety conditions of the work involved, as well as in avoiding or reducing the risk particularly of back injury, employers take account of the reference factors contained in Annex 1.

According to the Commission a general legal context is not sufficient to ensure a full and proper application of the Directive as a mere general obligation of assessment put upon the employer is not only contrary to the specific terms and function of Article 4, but also seriously undermines the aim of protecting workers against back injury by reference to certain all-important risk factors.

Ireland : non- communication of national measures transposing the work equipment's Directive

The Commission also decided to send the Irish authorities a reasoned opinion for their failure to communicate national measures transposing Council Directive 95/63/EC (3). The Directive for the first time amended Directive 89/655/EEC concerning the minimum safety and health requirements for the use of work equipment by workers at work. Under Article 2 (1) of Directive 95/63/EC Member States were obliged to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive before 5 December 1998.

On 12 March 1999 the Commission had notified Ireland a letter of formal notice under Article 226 of the EC Treaty. Although following the letter of formal notice the Irish authorities transmitted the Commission draft Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 1999, they have failed so far to notify the Commission that those Regulations were adopted and to transmit the Commission a copy of the final instrument.

Pursuant to Article 226 of the EC Treaty, the Member States have to take the measures necessary to comply with the reasoned opinions within two months following notification.

(1) Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 (OJ No. L 183, of 29 June 1989.

(2) OJ No. L 156 of 21 June 1990.

(3) OJ No. L 335 of 30 December 1995.

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