EU: Safety Success Is No Accident

Nov. 28, 2001
A new report points the way to a dramatic drop in European Union workplace deaths and injuries and discusses some successful injury reduction programs.


A new report points the way to dramatic drop in European Union (EU) workplace deaths and injuries.

Deaths and injuries at work could be dramatically reduced if organizations systematically monitored accidents and carried out preventive programs based on the involvement of all key stakeholders, including employees, according to a major study of 22 successful accident prevention programs in Europe. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work examined accident prevention initiatives taken from all 15 member states of the European Union (EU).

Approximately 5,500 people are killed each year at work in the EU and 75,000 are so severely injured they have to stop full-time employment. Latest figures reveal that in 1998, 4.7 million occupational accidents led to more than three days'' absence from work. It is estimated that work-related accidents cost the EU 150 million lost-work days each year. Direct insurance costs alone are in the region of 20 billion Euro dollars annually. However, a new Agency report, "How to Reduce Workplace Accidents" shows that it is possible to produce a significant drop in these figures. Examples of such accident prevention programs include:

  • A campaign in Austria to prevent falls at work which reduced them by more than 10 percent;
  • Spain''s Programma Aragn (focusing on direct contact between the regional authority and companies) resulted in accident rates dropping by over 25 percent at high-risk companies;
  • In Germany, a construction industry campaign reduced falls from heights by 30 percent;
  • The Finnish "Tuttava" method for general organization of the workplace appears reduce accidents by as much as 20-40 percent, but a program to address specific risks systematically reduces them by over 50 percent.

"Occupational accident levels are still too high in Europe," commented Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. "That is why the Agency and its network have focused this year''s European Week on accident prevention. I am very pleased to launch this report as it clearly shows that accidents can be substantially reduced."

Many of the lessons learned from these case studies can be transferred to other companies, sectors and countries, added Konkolewsky, acting as "a source of inspiration and motivation to continue preventive efforts in this important area."

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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