By labour risks we can identify physical health risks and death, but there are also other risks that arise from the quality of the work environment, namely, related to its ability to promote happiness and satisfaction.
What new working environments can be created? What can industries offer their workers to ensure not only physical but also mental health?

42. Bial, pharmaceutical company. 1947-1997. Teófilo Rego Archive, Casa da Imagem – Manuel Leão Foundation, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.


Being one of the 10 European pilars of Social Rights, health and safety at work aims to protect workers from risks. In a changing work reality, marked by the transition to a more ecological and digital environment and by the evolution of the traditional workplace, many workers are doing their activities at home. What new risks may come from there to the worker? How may EU and National legislation assist the worker’s needs?

43. Electro-Cerâmica Company. 1947-1997. Teófilo Rego Archive, Casa da Imagem – Manuel Leão Foundation, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.

Hygiene and safety conditions in industrial buildings are, nowadays, one of the cornerstones of the EU’s labour worlds. Industrial progress – from the pre-industrial era to the present day – has meant the loss of many lives and numerous accidents. Since the Industrial Revolution, workers have found personal protection mechanisms against the inhospitable conditions of the workplace and the subjugation of the factory owners, as in traditional mines, or in contemporary sweatshops. Excessive exposure to heat, chemicals, fumes or episodes of bullying justify (as in the past) the presence of images of religious figures at the entrance of factories, mines and other dangerous production sites, protecting workers and work environments itself from human errors, systemic errors and other gaps. From the inclusion of religious icons and events, to self-organised initiatives by associative groups, different activities have played a fundamental role in the collective worker’s protection. If today EU workers have already won the rights to decent payment, food and an 8-hour working day, the truth is that health protection still has a long way to go.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has been promoting actions towards gender equality in the access to decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and dignity. On the other hand, the EU has taken measures for the social protection of its members, such as the European Health Insurance Card. In particular, the EU has been concerned with mental health as a guarantor of citizens’ active participation in the community and of workers’ productivity in the labour world. The fight against depression and suicide has been the goal of several European projects seeking to prevent the spread of the phenomenon that occurred in the “Foxconn City” industrial park, in Shenzhen, China.