The loss of income to European employees due to absence from work as a consequence of illness amounts to about 1 billion Euros each year. With 82% of all occupational injuries and 90% of all fatal accidents at work the staff of small and medium-sized entities are particularly affected. For this reason the EU Commission has now agreed on a 5-year strategy aimed at reducing occupational illnesses and accidents in the EU by 25 percent by the year 2012.
This objective is to be achieved by raising more awareness for safety in the workplace, by better information and more training. However, the strategy also includes the simplification of the applicable law. Furthermore, potential risks are to be counteracted by more research and intensive knowledge exchange.
Since the year 2002 fatal accidents at work have been reduced by 17% and those entailing three or more days´ absence from work by 23%. Nevertheless, so far progress in this respect is not yet equally shared by all EU member states, economic sectors, companies and groups of employees. Changes in the world of business have lead to new risks for employees, and new occupational illnesses such as those of the muscoloskeletal system are on the rise.
This leads to new costs for employers in the form of sick benefits, replacement of employees and productivity losses, many of which are not covered by insurances. Further information on the 5-year strategy and on the subject of health protection and safety at work is availalbe online.