Nobody should die at work!

By Staff
4 Min Read

This International Workers Memorial Day, Members of the Health and Safety Network raise their concerns about the increase in number of fatal accidents in the workplace

28 April is International Workers Memorial Day, dedicated to remembering those who have suffered injuries, illnesses, or lost their lives due to workplace incidents.

Recent data show a disturbing increase in fatal accidents in a number of European countries, stagnation or slight improvements in others

–    In Spain, 115 fatal accidents happened in the workplace in 2022, 22 on the way to or from work
–    In the UK, 135 workers died in accidents at work between April 2022 and March 2023*, 142 in the twelve months before
–    In Hungary, 62 fatal accidents occurred in 2023, 68 in 2022
–    France saw 184 fatal workplace accidents in 2024.

At the time of the network meeting, Italy had seen a shocking 181 deaths since the beginning of the year 2024.

Each death is one too many

During their meeting on 11 April, industriAll Europe’s Health and Safety network of identified several factors contributing to the elevated number of work place deaths. 

Precarious work practices: long subcontracting chains that result in inadequate training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for workers.
Automation: The rise of automation often leaves a single worker at his or her work station, meaning accidents are discovered later or too late for emergency response.
Lack of maintenance: Defective equipment in work places due to insufficient maintenance causing injuries or death
Dangerous worksite configurations: Simultaneous construction and production activities significantly increase safety risks.

Climate change : added threats to workers’ safety

This year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day focuses on ‘Climate Risks for Workers’ and the escalating dangers posed by the climate crisis to workers globally. The increasing number of heatwaves across Europe have lead to heat stress, stroke, and even death. Similarly, storms and lightning have increased the risk of injury and electrocution. Rising temperatures also expand the habitats of disease-carrying mosquitos and rodents, leading to a potential rise in vector-borne diseases like Malaria and Dengue fever.

Green Transition – not at the expense of health and safety

While the transition to a green economy is essential to respond to the challenges of climate change, it must not come at the cost of workers’ safety.

IndustriAll Europe Deputy general secretary Isabelle Barthès says: “Let’s take a look at our sectors. Solar panel installation, wind farms or hydrogen storage come with risks, such as falls from heights, drowning, or explosions. Workers involved in the capture, transportation, and injection of CO2 for storage may be exposed to hazardous chemicals, such as corrosion inhibitors, solvents, or impurities present in the captured CO2 stream.”

Maike Niggemann industriAll Europe senior policy advisor for occupational safety and health says : “We can’t solely focus on accidents. Occupational diseases caused by, e.g., long-term exposure to hazardous substances, in both ‘old’ and ‘new’ industries, can lead to worker deaths years down the line.”

Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees. Trade unions must be actively involved in developing and implementing safety protocols.

Regular and thorough inspections by qualified authorities are crucial to ensure implementation and enforcement of health and safety legislation.

*HSE reporting period

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