The most important milestone for safety and health at work in the EU was publication in 1989 of the 89/391/EEC Framework Directive. The directive set out common principles and placed risk assessment at the heart of occupational safety and health legislation. At the turn of the 1990s, over 4 million occupational accidents occurred in Europe every year, 8,000 of them fatal. In response to these alarming figures, the European Commission declared 1992 the European Year of Safety, Hygiene and Health at Work. This formed the framework for the founding in 1994 of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work in Bilbao.
Owing to technical developments, political and social pressure, and changes in the economy, demographics, and the EU itself, the future will doubtless present new challenges. The strong links between the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work and all its partners – the European Commission, the national Focal Points, the social partners, the campaign partners, and their stakeholders – will assist the agency in facing these challenges.