Zeisler said the German market for personal protective equipment grew 10.9 percent over the past 2 years, to 1.42 billion euros in 2006. He said improved profits helped companies make purchases and that this also was reflected in more public sector spending. Two other factors Zeisler cited for the investment were the prevention of pandemics, reflected particularly in spending on respiratory equipment and protective clothing, and "a steady worldwide increase in safety consciousness over the last few years."
While noting a "high level of safety" in Europe and particularly in Germany, Zeisler said there were still "numerous important safety issues that remain to be addressed."
As an example, he cited substance abuse at work. "Psychological stress, shift work and night-time work, and also many routines and working conditions, tend to provide a fertile ground for addictive behavior and substance abuse," he said.
Zeisler said it was important to recognize the impact of substance abuse on workplace safety. He pointed to estimates that one-third of all accidents at work are caused by substance abuse. "The resulting loss of resources, injuries and property damage is likely to be several billion euros," he said.
Ergonomics also is attracting increased attention, Zeisler said, with efforts to design workplaces that take into account "the premises, work organization, resources, technical equipment and acoustics." He said experts estimate that every third workstation in German offices is likely to produce health problems.
"In fact, office workstations are seen as the main cause of back pain, a condition which is responsible for an annual loss of over 86 million working days in Germany alone," Zeisler said, adding that an ergonomically designed office increases staff motivation and concentration.