Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening har den 25. November 2004 svaret UNICE i sagen om

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) at work

Preliminary comments regarding the questions put forward in the Commission’s First-phase consultation of the social partners on musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) at work.

Question (1)

We do not see any need for new legislative initiatives in Denmark or at the EU level. The existing regulatory framework is sufficient, end e.g. in Denmark MSD has been given a very high priority based on that framework during many years with good results (statistically proven), quit opposite to the Commission’s assertion saying that the available data does not indicate any positive trends. These statistical data will be conveyed to the Commission as an annex to the third Danish evaluation report on the directive on manual handling of loads.

Further more there is absolutely no scientific basis supporting the hypothesis about work related MSD being an ascending problem.

Concerning computer use, including the use of mouse devices, extending studies have taken place in Denmark, with results that in no way support any need for more legislation. Of course it must be admitted that intensive mouse use may give rise to inconveniences (pain) but not to permanent problems or injuries.

Instead of new legislation there is a much more conspicuous need for initiatives aiming at securing an efficient and consistent practical enforcement of the EU legislative framework supplemented by the non-binding initiatives emphasized in the opinion of the Advisory Committee. Linked to that, it should be mentioned that the renewed focus on MSD by the Agency in 2007 (follow-up on the action in 2001) must be expected to create the necessary attention in order to minimise possible unsolved MSD problems.

Question (2)

As mentioned above we do not see any need for new legislative initiatives on the EU level, but a revision of some of the directives, especially the VDU directive, would most certainly be appropriate.

Concerning non-binding initiatives we would like to underline that we are positive towards the Agency initiative as mentioned above to renew the focus on MSD in 2007.

Question (3)

We refer to our comments on question (2).

Question (4)

Regarding new legislation we are of the opinion that the legislative route will not remedy any possible unsolved MSD problems, which leads to the conclusion that besides a strengthened effort towards efficient end consistent enforcement of the legislative framework, new initiatives must be based on actions of a voluntary character as for the instance the planned renewed focus en MSD by the Agency.

Concerning the use of binding legal acts setting out the goals to be achieved supplemented by technical guidelines we are in general positive towards this line of action as regards complex and difficult OSH issues stemming from many varied exposure situation (scenarios) in different cultural contexts. But the development of a Community action of this character in a situation characterised by having a sufficient legal framework as for MSD, would not be a suitable use of available resources seen in relation to more profitable actions of non-binding nature.

As regards a possible joint initiative based in agreements between the European social partners, we believe that work related MSD is generally too complex and too related to the very variable work situations to be suitable for making agreements of a general nature on the top social partners level (UNICE and ETUC).

Cooperation on a more general level on MSD issues in the framework of the existing MSD legislation would probably be more suitable in the context of the Advisory Committee and/or the Agency or equivalent national tripartite institutions.

Confederation of Danish Employers

Torben Jensen

25. november 2004