What can be learned from EuroStat’s Workplace accident statistics

Workplace safety is becoming increasingly more and more talked about in the world today. In fact, it’s so talked about that the European Union (EU) made a 6-year strategic framework focusing on improving occupational health and safety in companies in the EU.

What makes workplace safety so important for my company?

The answer is simple, it just is and should be a priority no matter what your industry or job function is.

Recently published statistics from EuroStat shows that a “fifth of all workplace accidents happened in the construction industry”, but that accidents are occurring in every industry and job function.

Fatal_and_non-fatal_accidents_at_work,_by_NACE_section,_EU-28,_2015_(_of_fatal_and_non-fatal_accidents)-AAW2018

What is notable here is that while the top 5 industries who has the most fatal work accidents are:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation and storage
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • And surprisingly, Wholesale and retail trade

What all these industries have in common is that the employees here are doing mainly physical work, and with large loads of goods and machines, which can present risks in terms of occupational safety. Another observation is that mining and quarrying has a low amount of fatal accidents. This could be due to the implementation of more safety at work as this is seen as a dangerous industry to work in, in general.

Another thing to be aware of, according to the EuroStat review, is that the amount of fatal accidents increased with 102 (2.7 %) in EU-28 between 2014 and 2015.

Fatal_accidents_at_work,_2014_and_2015_(incidence_rates_per_100_000_persons_employed)-AAW2018

 

UK, Netherlands and Sweden are doing the best in terms of preventing fatal accidents.”

Countries where the amount of fatal accidents are the highest include Romania, Lithuania and Bulgaria. Whereas countries that are doing the best in terms of preventing fatal accidents are Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.

It tells us that the measures of protecting workers isn’t good enough in the EU. This is where EU’s strategic framework comes in.

The EU aims to create a better foundation for safety education, principles and simplify reporting processes and legislations. In addition, they will increase the practical support for small and micro-sized companies to ensure that they know how to comply with health and safety rules.

Complying with health and safety legislations shouldn’t be hard to do. As a company there are various actions you can take in order to make sure that you have a safe workplace that follows the rules;

  • Set a checklist of critical areas that has had hazards or accidents in the past to make sure they have an increased focus on health and safety at work. For example near miss reporting can help preventing smaller hazards from escalating.
  • Make periodical inspections of the property and work areas and make sure that all equipment, air vents and machines, etc. are up to date with safety requirements set by your country, and the EU.
  • Enable all employees to do low threshold reporting. In that way you will be able to catch all and any accidents or near misses that happens in the workplace.

What is important to note on the reporting of injuries and near misses is that EuroStat found that many companies didn’t report superficial injuries or wounds as they weren’t viewed as something that would prevent workers from performing their job:  

 

"Non-fatal accidents at work are defined as those that imply at least four full calendar days of absence from work (they are sometimes also called 'serious accidents at work'). Non-fatal accidents at work often involve considerable harm for the workers concerned and their families, and they have the potential to force people, for example, to live with a permanent disability, to leave the labour market, or to change job. 

Indeed, they may result in a considerable number of working days being lost within the European economy." ….Particularly low incidence rates for non-fatal accidents may reflect reporting systems that offer no or little financial incentive for victims to report their accidents. The phenomenon of low non-fatal incidence rates can be considered to reflect under-reporting following the assumption that many accidents remain unreported.”

 

However, all accidents are important, and needed to know about in order to prevent any potential future fatal accidents. One way of doing that is by implementing VUCA in your safety strategy.

 

How you can implement low threshold reporting in your company will be covered in the next blog post in this series. Hit the button below, subscribe, and we'll notify you as soon as it's published:

 

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