ECONOMY

Industrial accidents decline as result of safety and hygiene rules

Accidents at work have declined by 57.1 percent in the last 15 years in Greece. The drop is a direct consequence of the technological modernization of companies and of the application of hygiene and work safety rules – if at a snail’s pace. The deindustrialization process also seems to have played an important role in the reduction of accidents at work. According to the report by the economic and technical services department of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) regarding industrial accidents, the number per 1,000 people insured dropped from 18.2 in 1988 to 7.8 in 2003 and in absolute numbers from 32,192 in 1988 to 15,310 in 2003 while workers insured at IKA rose from 1,766,000 in 1988 to 1,956,878 in 2003. This improvement is also recorded in the data about the «days of inability to work»: In 1973 these days per 1,000 workers came to 1,112.4. Ten years on, in 1983, this fell to 506 and in 2003 to 264.6 days. Nevertheless the reduction of industrial accidents and special leaves has not led to a similar reduction in the total of contributions (for benefits and pensions after an accident at work). Notably, the frequency of accidents among foreign workers originating from outside the European Union is much greater, recorded at 12 per thousand workers. Greek citizens accounted for 81.4 percent of all accidents. Data also prove that the weakest point in working conditions remains small enterprises, as the biggest accident frequency (nine per 1,000) is found in companies employing between 20 and 49 people. Also above average is the frequency of accidents in companies with fewer than nine employees: Their ratio is eight per 1,000. Three in every eight accidents (37.7 percent) occur in enterprises employing from one to nine people. This is another indication of the problems small enterprises have. On the other hand, companies employing 250 or more people have an accident ratio that is below the average. In total, IKA recorded 107 deadly accidents in 2003. A large portion (27.5 percent) of the deaths happened in the construction industry, although the sector takes up only 14.2 percent of all IKA insured workers. Particularly prone to accidents is the sector including mining and constructing and finishing buildings; its portion of all accidents was at 19.3 percent in 2003, although it covers just 2.3 percent of IKA-insured workers. One in three workers to suffer an accident belong to the 25-34 age group – 33.8 percent for men and 30.3 percent for women. It would seem that danger goes hand-in-hand with maturing, as the age of those insured who lost their lives in accidents at work is considerably higher. Deadly accidents are dominated by the 35-54 age group, who cover 59.8 percent of the total. Seven of eight accidents (87.6 percent) occurred at the company or during work, while 14.4 percent of accidents happened on the road, either on the way to work or during work.