Statistics are obscure or contradictory

Official statistics have it that the number of workplace accidents is falling. But it would be a stretch to attribute the reduction to an improvement in work conditions and closer adherence to health and safety regulations. The reduced accident rate is primarily due to lower numbers of people working in manufacturing, due to an industrial base that has shrunk by 25 percent, to 1980s levels. Factories are seldom inspected, as charges reach inspectors’ desks only with excruciating difficulty – in contrast to construction, where an increase in both accidents and accusations is observable. «Data not available» are the three words that come up again and again in European reports on workplace accidents in Greece. Any statistics that exist come from the Social Security Foundation (IKA), which only covers 45 percent of workers. Thus no one knows what the true picture is regarding occupational deaths and injuries. In any case, there is a huge discrepancy between Labor Ministry figures and those of IKA, with the latter listing 16,822 accidents for the year 2000, and the former only 4,032. Fatal workplace accidents appear to be on the rise, with 127 fatalities noted by the ministry – to IKA’s 80 – during 2000. The figures for 2001 and 2002 are 188 and 153 respectively. In 1977, there were 140 fatalities and in 1978, 98. The rising number of fatalities, irrespective of actual cause, is associated with a forced pace of work, both in construction and in industry. Anxiety results in corners being cut and health and safety regulations being waived. In the Corinth Pipeworks accident, it seems that an important factor in taking on untrained employees in posts where trained staff were needed was the fear of a move to Thisvi in Viotia. The struggle to maintain one’s pay packet at any cost played its own role – one that can never be recorded in an investigation.