Almost two hundred thousand people die every year in the European Union as a result of workplace diseases, illnesses and accidents.
The reality is much worse - there is massive under reporting by employers, and when a worker is killed by their work it harms whole families.
The ETUC is calling for the European Union – in particular the new European Parliament to be elected in May and the new European Commission to be appointed following the elections – to
• Set a target of zero workplace cancer, and as a step towards that target set ‘binding occupational exposure limits’ for at least 50 cancer-causing substances (24 have been agreed by the current Parliament and Commission);
• Introduce a Directive on stress at work to make all employers adopt initiatives to identify and prevent stress, and procedures to tackle stress;
• Introduce a Directive to tackle back, knee and finger-joint (and other musculoskeletal) pain at work;
• Launch a debate on preventing work-related road deaths and work-related suicide with a view to taking new measures in the lifetime of the new Parliament and Commission.
“Work is to earn a living” said Esther Lynch, ETUC Confederal Secretary “not cause death.
“The EU should work towards no work-related deaths and adopt an official target of zero workplace cancer. EU law is needed to oblige employers to put in place actions to prevent and tackle work-related stress and to stop the misery and suicide caused by work-related stress.
“The EU must also act to reduce the distress of millions of workers who suffer from musculoskeletal pain – like back, knee and other pain in people’s tendons, joints, muscles and bones.”
On work-related road deaths and suicides, Lynch added “We know that a large proportion of road deaths are work-related, and with the digital economy there is an increase of people delivering goods by road. We need those platforms who create the conditions to be responsible and take actions to protect workers and prevent work-related road deaths. We also know that these delivery workers are subject increasingly to violence. On work-related suicide we need studies and statistics as well as a actions to prevent such suicides.”
April 28 is the day trade unionists throughout the world ‘remember the dead and fight for the living’ and press decision-makers and employers on the need to work with trade unions to stop workplace fatalities, injuries and disease.
There were estimated to be some 500,000 work-related cancer deaths 2014-19 (the period in office of the current European Commission and Parliament), part of a total of 900,000-1 million work-related deaths over the same period in EU member states.