Overview of policies, strategies and programmes in relation to the occupational health and safety of older workers - Lithuania

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Initiatives from government/government-affiliated organisations

Occupational health and safety policies

By resolution of the Government of Lithuania (No. 669, 25/06/2009), the Occupational Safety and Health Strategy for 2009-2012 was approved. Its implementation occurred in two phases; a first plan of measures was approved for 2009-2010 and a second plan for 2011-2012. The plans covered in particular: a) company occupational safety and health services, which should contribute to health maintenance and enhancement; and

b) the development of occupational safety and health research on accidents at work and occupational diseases prevention.

These plans were only indirectly related to the health and safety of older workers and did not contain specific elements related to the health and safety of older worker. Objective 3, enhancing the effectiveness of preventive health care for employees, is probably the most relevant to sustainable work, and covers: increasing the contribution of bodies for safety and health at work to the strengthening and preservation of workers’ health; quality improvement in employee healthcare; continuous professional development of employee healthcare staff. The Strategy also emphasised OSH education throughout working life[1]. The Strategy has not been renewed since 2012.

Employment policies

The Resolution of the Government of the Lithuanian Republic No. 878 of 25 September 2013 adopted the Programme on employment growth during the 2014-2020 period[2]. This programme is intended to encourage older people to stay longer in the labour market, that is to say to create favourable conditions for working beyond retirement age. It also aims to increase participation of disabled people in the labour market.

The Lithuanian Labour Exchange has created in 2006 the “Senior Bank” system[3], which aims to enable older workers and retired people to find an appropriate occupation and for employers to receive information concerning job seekers of retirement age. This new system has been adopted to reduce mass unemployment among older workers. It introduces a new perspective, aiming at maintaining older workers longer in the active population. This measure has become popular among older workers: between 2007 and 2012, the project involved over 1,600 people, of which over 25% have been employed according to the Labour Exchange statistics.

Health policies

The Lithuanian public health policy Framework for Health System Development in 2011–2020, emphasised health promotion and health education, but there are no explicit links to the workplace[4].

Initiatives from social partners

Whilst there have been no projects from the social partners dedicated to sustainable work, two initiatives are relevant to older worker:

  • The Lithuanian Trade Union Confederation (LPSK) has implemented a project, funded by the European Community Initiative EQUAL, which aims to develop and implement the re-integration of older people into the labour market model. The essence of the project is to reduce older workers' social exclusion by employing them. This is done by including protective provisions into collective agreements, organising training of pre-retirement age persons and creating new techniques for adult learning. This project is the first serious attempt of LPSK to not only identify the problems of older workers, but also to raise the attention of state representatives, employers and the public to this issue and provide possible solutions.
  • The project “Support Network for Reintegration into the Labour Market in the Regions of Utena and Vilnius” involving trade unions, employers, public organisations and vocational schools[5], is the first serious attempt to draw attention of government representatives, employers and the society to the problems of older people at the labour market and to offer solutions. The project addressed policies and initiatives which would encourage employees to participate in the life-long learning processes and which would reduce age-based discrimination and social exclusion of persons at pre-retirement age. The project analysed existing collective agreements and showed that currently many companies and organisations do not have any policies or programmes in place that address professional education of employees, improvement of qualifications, re-skilling and the related guarantees and benefits.

Initiatives from other organisations

Since 2006, Lithuania has implemented trainings for OSH professionals based on training courses programme on Ergonomic Risk Factors Assessment and Psychosocial Risk Factors Assessment approved by the Minister of Health[6] and adapted by the Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. These courses focus on fitting the work system components (work equipment, used tools, environment) to the individual, particularly with regard to older workers’ abilities in order to preserve their employability throughout their working lives[7]. In 2013, the Lithuanian Ergonomics Association[8] has implemented a new version of Ergonomic Risk Factors Assessment programme, which includes new ergonomic research methodologies and techniques.

The Equal Opportunities Development Centre, the Lithuanian Centre of Human Rights, the Lithuanian Ergonomics Association and other non-governmental organisations carry out educational work in Lithuania regarding discrimination against older workers, well-being at work and workplace adaptation to individual abilities. For example, several manufacturing companies “Yazaki Wiring Technologies Lietuva“, “Kauno Kranai”, “Mars Lietuva” and others invited experts in ergonomics to visit the company and to assess the existing situation at the workplace. The experts carried out an ergonomics training for engineering and management professionals.

References

  1. European Social Charter, 10th National Report on the implementation of the European Social Charter, 2013. Available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/socialcharter/reporting/statereports/Lithuania10_en.pdf (Accessed October 2014)
  2. Available (in Lithuanian) at: http://www.lrv.lt/Posed_medz/2014/140226/23.pdf (Accessed October 2014)
  3. Lithuanian Labour Exchange – webpage on Senior Banks: http://www.ldb.lt/Informacija/Patarimai/PatarimaiIeskantiemsDarbo/Puslapiai/senjoru_bankas.aspx (Accessed October 2014)
  4. European Social Charter, 10th National Report on the implementation of the European Social Charter
  5. Socialinės informacijos ir mokymų agentūra, Socialinių partnerių įtaka darbo rinkai (Influence of the Social Partners on the Labour Market), 2008, p. 32. Available at: http://www.mature-project.eu/materials/Soc.partneriuitakadarborinkaiEQUAL5.pdf (Accessed October 2014)
  6. Order No.V-12, 04/01/ 2006
  7. Information available at: http://www.ergon.vgtu.lt/ (Accessed October 2014)
  8. Website of the association: http://www.ergonomikosasociacija.lt (Accessed October 2014)