Win-win situation in networking

In our currently globalizing work life, we increasingly need the expertise and support of other experts. Productive networking also needs time. One good example of successful networking is the 20-year old Baltic Sea Network on Occupational Health and Safety. The Network started in 1995 as a small-scale endeavor of the Nordic countries and the three Baltic States under the umbrella of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Today it covers all ten countries around the Baltic Sea. The creation of trust among the actors – in search of win/win situations – takes time, and cannot be forced by administrative decisions. With time, and with learning to know each other’s strengths, readiness for sharing and developing joint activities becomes a natural end product.

The BSN, a network of experts and institutes, receives policy-making support from the Northern Dimension Partnership on Public Health and Social Well-being, the NDPHS. However, it has also been an operating arm in the implementation of the NDPHS Strategy on Health at Work, and for the Health Chapter of the EU’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.

Reliable information on occupational injuries and occupational diseases is of utmost importance to all countries. Although a lagging indicator, these figures are often used as an argument for the need to develop occupational health and safety in these countries. If the data used for convincing decision-makers is inadequate and unreliable, this may lead to serious misinterpretation of the countries’ occupational safety and health situation.

One of the most recent topics of discussion within the Baltic Sea Network on Occupational Health and Safety has been the status of and structures for reporting occupational injuries in the countries. In their meeting in November 2013, the NDPHS Ministers of Health called for an analysis of the recording and notification systems of occupational accidents. This report is accessible at the BSN-website, and has been discussed in the BSN meeting in September 2015.

We call for evidence-based, well-informed decision-making at all levels in our societies. At the same time, we should also ensure that our information sources are as reliable as possible. This will contribute to improving workers’ health in all our countries.