ACCIDENTS AT WORK
Around 4 million
accidents at work resulting in more than 3 days of absence from work occurred in the EU-15 in 2005.
to a 17.4 percent decrease in accidents compared with the accidents in 1995.
Concerning fatal accidents (resulting
in death), the decrease was 35.6 percent over the same period.
Over the ten-year period the strongest reduction
in non-fatal accidents took place within the sector of Transport, Storage, and Communication, as well as within the sector
Health and Safety at work, especially relating to accidents
at work are amongst the most important areas of action of the European Union’s social policy.
to improve working conditions began already in early 1950 within the European Coal and Steel Community, and was later extended
to all workers in the Treaty of Rome.
In 1987, the Single European Act provided a legal basis on which wide-ranging
legislation for the protection of workers could be built.
One of the strategic goals of the Lisbon Treaty in 2000
was to create ‘more and better jobs’, where health and safety at work became good measures of quality at work.
An ambitious goal within the field of health and safety at work has become to reduce, by 2012, the total incidence
rate of accidents at work by 25 percent.
Also the fact that retirement age is becoming higher, has an impact
on what can be regarded as good working environment.
While people are expected to remain in employment longer,
it is important to reduce accident risks. To achieve the goal national strategies were created targeting the most common risks,
the most vulnerable sectors of activity, enterprises and workers.
Fatal and non-fatal
According to the European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW), around 4 million
accidents at work resulting in more than 3 days of absence from work occurred in the EU-15 in 2005 (in the 15 EU countries
before the enlargement of the EU).
This corresponds to a 17.4 percent decrease in accidents compared with the
accidents in 1995.
Concerning fatal accidents, the decrease was 35.6 percent over the same period.
the ten-year period the strongest reduction in non-fatal accidents took place within the sector of Transport, Storage, and
Communication, as well as within the sector of Construction.
Although the rate of fatal accidents
(resulting in death) has decreased, there were sectors where the incidence rate was significantly higher than in other sectors
(totally nine sectors).
These were the sectors of Construction, Agriculture, and Transport (accidents occurring
while commuting to work NOT included).
Accidents at work occurring at night showed to be more fatal than those
occurring during the daytime.
Factors involved in fatal accidents
Loss of control of means of transport and of handling equipment were most commonly involved in fatal accidents at work.
Over 38 percent of victims of such fatal accidents were drivers and mobile-plant operators.
resulting in death (slips, stumbles or falls to a lower level) were most common in the Construction sector (around 52 percent
of fatal accidents) and 39 percent of victims of such accidents were Extraction and Building Trades Workers.
Construction sector also accounted for 36 percent of accidents involving falling objects (slip, fall, collapse of material
falling on the victim).
The Construction sector covers several subsectors; site preparation (demolition of
buildings, earth moving and test drilling), building of complete constructions (buildings, highways, airfields), installations
(electrical wiring, insulations), building completion (plastering, floor and wall covering), renting of construction and demolition
equipment with operator).
Thus, work within this sector probably involves more risky moments than other sectors.
Besides falls from height and falling objects (on the victim), fatal accidents involve being struck or run over
by moving vehicles.
Lost work days
In 2005 more than 141 million days
were lost due to accidents at work in the 15 EU countries.
This corresponds to an average of 35 days of absence
per accident. However, nearly half of all accidents led to less than 14 days of absence.
(In the data only accidents
leading to more than 3 days of absence have been taken into account).
Most of the absence days (around 53 %) were
found in Manufacturing, Construction, and Wholesale and Retail Trade, but all sectors (such as Agriculture, Hunting and Forestry,
Health and Social Work, Hotels and Restaurants, Education, etc) lost work days due to accidents.
Some non-fatal accidents result in six months of absence from work or permanent incapacity.
When returning to work after at least six months of absence, the victim of accident at work may sometimes be assigned
to a different post within the company.
This may happen because someone else has been hired to do the tasks during
the long-term absence, or because the disability resulting from the accident prevents the person from resuming his or her
Age of the victims
In 1995 workers aged 18 to 24
were twice as likely as other age groups to be involved in work-related non-fatal accidents, but after 2000 there has been
a decrease in accident rates in all age groups.
In contrast, the reverse seems to be true for fatal accidents.
There was an increase in fatal incidence rates for older workers.
This may reflect the fact that the national
strategies were targeting activities involving younger worker.
Today people continue to work to an older
age than before, and different types of risks need to be observed.
In 2005 the average age of victims of fatal
accidents was 43 years and the average age of non-fatal accidents leading to at least six months of absence or to permanent
incapacity was 43.2 years.
Regarding fatal accidents the youngest victims were employed as Service workers and
Shop and Market Sales Workers, followed by Professionals, and Craft and related Trades Workers.
The oldest victims
of fatal accidents were found amongst Skilled Agricultural and Fishery Workers, and Legislators, Senior Officials and Managers.
Reduce the costs of your business
Health and safety issues may sound boring but reduction
of accidents, damage, and improving poor health in work can reduce the costs, improve efficiency, and thereby heighten the
effectiveness of business.
(The report Causes and circumstances of accidents at work in the EU as well as
other documents can be downloaded from the pages of the European Commission for Employment, Social Affairs, and Equal
Opportunities http://ec.europa.eu/ and from the pages of the European Agency for Safety and Health in Work, http://osha.eu/publications )
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Environmental health risks are found in many workplaces.
Some of these
relate to loud noise, others to hand/arm vibration, or to cold or heat, and so on.
Yet, there are also dangerous
chemical or biological substances in workplaces, such as any liquid, in solid or gas form.
are found in many workplaces. A recent survey found that 16% of workers in Europe reported handling hazardous products and
22% being exposed to toxic vapours.
In agriculture, for example, many workers may be exposed to chemicals
at work, such as pesticides, drugs, solvents, and oils.
The cost of ill health from exposure to dangerous substances
is very high.
For example, occupational skin diseases are estimated to cost the EU EUR 600 million each year,
resulting in around 3 million lost working days, in the 15 Member States of the EU, in 2000, alone.
can cause many types of harm, such as cancer; the ability to reproduce or cause birth defects, brain damage; harm to the nervous
system, asthma; and skin problems.
Maintenance and cleaning work
Those who carry out maintenance
or cleaning work are especially at risk. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA) has produced various publication,
reports, and factsheets on these (and other) topics.
They have also reports on good practices in workplaces, especially
interesting for small businesses, employees, and self-employed.
The easiest way to access these reports and
factsheets is to visit the OSHA website, http://www.osha.europa.eu , select a language, and go to 'documents'. ,
Good reports to read about maintenance are 'Maintenance
and occupational safety and health: A statistical picture', in which you also find examples of industrial (large scale)
accidents in different European countries, and 'Safe maintenance in practice'.
Dangerous substances while
cleaning has been listed in 'Cleaners and dangerous substances' E.Facts-41.
Corrective and preventive work
work is carried out practically everywhere; in industrial buildings and construction sites, in public buildings, such as schools,
and in our own homes.
Maintenance may refer to corrective work, such as repair work (repair related to electricity,
heating, water), and to preventive maintenance, aiming to prevent failures of machinery or components, by checking them with
Accidents occurred most frequently within the sectors of manufacturing, construction,
and real estate, as well as in hotels and restaurants, according to a report from 2006 in 5 European countries.
Men and women
Most maintenance workers are men, and men were more often involved in accidents than women, with
the exception of Austria where women were more frequently involved in accidents.
A potential explanation may be
that in Austria maintenance related accidents were common in private households (with employee) and in hotels and restaurants,
where women form a high percentage of employees.
Maintenance workers often have contact with vapour or gases, particles
(dust, smoke), fibres (asbestos, glass fibre) and mists.
Typical maintenance tasks
during which workers come in contact with chemical substances involve, for example, work with asbestos, working in confined
spaces with dangerous atmospheres, electrical arc welding, work in solid waste treatment plants, and road maintenance.
hazards involve, for example, maintenance of public swimming pools, maintaining laboratory instruments, maintenance in water
supply installations or wastewater treatment plants.
can be prevented or reduced by using well-trained workers, correct equipment, and instructing the workers for the task involved.
Most of us have done some form of cleaning at home, and thus have
some knowledge of what the work involves.
We have some idea of what mopping, dusting, vacuuming, polishing floors,
or window cleaning involves. But are we aware of the dangerous substances in all the cleaning products we use?
There are also those
who do cleaning work for a living. As a matter of fact, cleaning is a multimillion indistry employing millions of workers
across Europe. Who are the cleaners?
Cleaners can be found in all industry sectors and workplaces from hotels to factories, and in private
households. They work indoors and outdoors.
may be employed by public or private organisations, or they may be self-employed. Most work part-time and they are usually
women and come from ethnic minorities.
products can contain dangerous substances that may enter the body through inhalation and skin contact.
is too high for too long, there is a high risk of developing breathing problems or skin diseases
are there dangerous substances?
Cleaning products have been developed
to remove dust and dirt easily, to dissolve the greasy dirt, and for disinfection and other surface maintenance.
Acids and bases such as hydrochloric acid, sulfamic acid, formic acid,
sodiumhydroxide, and ammonium hydroxide are found in cleaning products for bathrooms and in products to
remove lime, concrete, and cement.
They can cause irritation and severe burns of the skin, and eyes, and if their fumes areinhaled irritation and burns to the respiratory system.
Organic solvents and detergents such as white spirits, turpentine, acetone,aromatic
hydrocarbons, and alcohol that are found in degreasing productsused on floors and other surfaces can cause irritation of the
skin, respiratorysystem (through inhalation of vapours), and a toxic effect on the nervoussystem, brain, kidneys, and
Once again, it is the task of the employer (and of the cleaner herself or himself if self-employed)
to avoid unnecessary risks by instructing the workers to use correct equipment, and to use the substances in a correct manner.
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GOOD PRACTICE AWARDS 2012-13
Winners have been selected
The European Agency for Health and Safety
at Work (EU-OSHA) is the organizer of Good Practice Awards.
In 2012-1013 hundreds of companies
and organizations of all sizes from 29 countries participated in the competition.
This year businesses and organizations
who acted as good/best examples of collaboration between managers and workers in risk prevention were rewarded.
The following 10 companies and organizations were awarded:
Voestalpine Rotec Group
(Austria) for establishing health and safety standards across countries.
Atlantica Leisure Group
Ltd (Cyprus) for minimizing accidents in the hotel industry.
Rigshospitalet (Denmark) for improving
the working environment in a large hospital.
OY SKF AB, Muurame Factory (Finland) for increasing
the staff well-being in a technology company.
Arbeitsschutz Partnerschaft Hamburg (Germany) for
finding health and safety solutions for companies in Hamburg.
West Offaly Dairy Discussion Group
(Ireland) for reducing hazards on dairy farms.
Wehkamp.nl/Gezond Transport/EVO (Netherlands) for
raising safety awareness among forklift truck drivers.
SONAE (Portugal) for involving managers
and workers in risk prevention at a retail group.
PROTON ELECTRONICA SLU (Spain) for developing
a risk prevention model for small companies.
Tofas Turk Otomobil Fabrikasi A.S (Turkey) for reducing
accidents at automobile production.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL AWARD WINNERS!
If you wish to know more about this, go and visit the website of OSHA
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