Governance by Law: Health and Safety in the Workplace

  • Ailish Johnson
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


The regulation of health and safety in the workplace sets the tone for the permissible basis upon which competition can occur in a common market. Competition between states on the basis of health and safety standards in order to lower costs and attract investment and production is one of the key fears embodied in the social dumping hypothesis: under conditions of economic integration, high-cost countries will be forced to lower their standards in health and safety in order to stay competitive with low-cost countries (Eichener 1992; Mirka and Ruhm 1997; Blanpain 1998). EU1 legislation attempts to regulate the conditions under which productive activity takes place, and the tools such as machinery and protective equipment used in this activity, in order to create common minimum standards below which competition should not take place (Smismans 2001, p. 73). Lest this topic seem abstract, it is worth noting that in 1996 there were over 4.5 million accidents at work that resulted in more than three days’ absence from work. Just over 5,500 employees were killed in that year, concentrated in the construction, manufacturing, transport, and agricultural sectors. The cost to insurance schemes across the Union is estimated to be €20 billion per year (Agency 2001, pp. 8–9).


Member State Welfare State Employer Responsibility Unanimity Vote European Welfare State 
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© Ailish Johnson 2005

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  • Ailish Johnson

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