The aim of this Directive is to introduce measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work. It applies to all sectors of activity, both public and private, except for specific public service activities, such as the armed forces, the police or certain civil protection services.

It is of fundamental importance as it the basic safety and health legal act which lays down general principles concerning the prevention and protection of workers against occupational accidents and diseases. It contains principles concerning the prevention of risks, the protection of safety and health, the assessment of risks, the elimination of risks and accident factors, the informing, consultation and balanced participation and training of workers and their representatives.

On the basis of this "Framework Directive" a series of individual directives were adopted. The Framework Directive with its general principles continues to apply in full to all the areas covered by the individual directives, but where individual directives contain more stringent and/or specific provisions, these special provisions of individual directives prevail.



The Framework Directive contains basic obligations for employers and workers. Nevertheless, the workers' obligations shall not affect the principle of the responsibility of the employer.

It is the employer's obligation to ensure the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to work and he may not impose financial costs to the workers to achieve this aim. Alike, where an employer enlists competent external services or persons, this shall not discharge him from his responsibilities in this area.

The general principles of prevention listed in the directive are the following:

  • avoiding risks
  • evaluating the risks
  • combating the risks at source
  • adapting the work to the individual
  • adapting to technical progress
  • replacing the dangerous by the non- or the less dangerous
  • developing a coherent overall prevention policy
  • prioritizing collective protective measures (over individual protective measures)
  • giving appropriate instructions to the workers

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