Bruno Zwingmann, managing director of the Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health, said the event came as government officials were working to reform the century-old German occupational protection system. A National Occupational Protection Conference was created to provide a central decision-making committee for the planning, coordination and evaluation of a national occupational protection strategy, including the development of occupational protection objectives, priorities for action and evaluation of whether these objectives are being met.
According to Zwingmann, more than 100,000 workers leave their employment for medical reasons annually in Germany. One study estimated this cost the German economy 20 billion Euros each year and that half of these costs were due to occupational strain.
"Based on an average number of 12.2 sick-days per worker, the overall number of sick-days in Germany amounted to 420.5 million in 2005," Zwingmann stated. "The economic loss of production is estimated to a total of Euro 38 billion and the loss of gross value added is assessed at roughly Euro 66 billion."
He added that the potential for prevention was "significant and must be better exploited, especially in consideration of the 'aging' populations in Europe."