EuroCOP has been successful in its application to be an official partner in the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load 2020-22′ campaign
EuroCOP believes that police officers should have the same social rights and working conditions as other civil workers. This is not always the case.
For example, in some instances police officers across different Member States face exclusion from two key Directives: the Working Time Directive, which protects employees from excessive working hours, and the OSH Framework Directive, which guarantees minimum health and safety requirements at work.
Based on a report produced by the European Commission in 2017, it was made clear that the implementation of the Working Time Directive varies across Member States with regards to police officers with clear examples in Ireland, Italy and Slovenia.
Similarly, Article 2(2) of the OSH Framework Directive makes it clear that the Directive does not apply to individuals when completing certain activities which conflict with it. This unfortunately includes police officers (which are provided as an example in the Directive itself). It has since been made clear by the European Commission’s Staff Working Document produced in 2017 evaluating the OSH Directives as well as a White Paper produced jointly by the EU and the ILO last year that this exception “is very restricted and only limited to certain activities (within those public services) whose particular characteristics inevitably conflict with it (and not to those public entities as a whole)”. Nevertheless, this exception has created uncertainty, which in turn has led to differences of transposition to the National level.
Law enforcement can by its very nature be an occupation characterised by high stress levels and discomfort. These are troublesome for a healthy workplace and undoubtedly impact on operational delivery. Police officers have increased exposure to risks and violence and poor working conditions which lead to a build-up of stress. Furthermore, police officers have to work in uncomfortable environments, spending long periods of time sitting in fleet vehicles that weren’t constructed to facilitate Police Officers who are required to wear essential equipment that can weigh up to 30 kg
The increased stress levels as well as the occupational discomfort combined, make police officers liable to disorders such as MSDs and mental health wellbeing challenges. These disorders can materialise at any time during their public service as Police Officers.
Given the arduous environment that police officers, more often than not, find themselves in today’s society, we believe that they should be given serious consideration under this initiative.