People go to work to make a living – to provide for themselves, their family and their loved ones.
Every working day across the European Union twelve working people do not come home from work - because they have died at work. Far from earning a living, work has killed them, and their families suffer emotionally, financially and in many other ways.
Today on International Workers Memorial Day – when we remember those killed or injured at work – we urge the European Union, member state governments and employers to bring an end to deaths at work. We call for zero death at work.
Zero death at work is not a utopian dream. The trend in fatal workplace accidents is down and eradication of fatal accidents is achievable.
But while fatal accidents are declining, occupational diseases are increasing. Some 100,000 workers die every year from occupational cancer due to exposure to hazardous substances. Long working hours and psychological pressure at work cause heart-disease, stroke, depression, and suicide. Bad posture, repetitive movement and heavy lifting cause backpain and other ‘musculoskeletal’ disorders and in turn cause depression and people being unable to work.
New challenges for health and safety are posed by extreme weather and temperatures from climate change, and new forms of work away from the traditional workplace such as rapidly increasing work from home and platform work. COVID has shown that the workplace is a major source of contagion, has led to the death of many thousands of workers, and we must be better prepared in work and elsewhere for future pandemics.
The EU’s current health and safety strategy says “All efforts must be deployed to reduce work-related deaths as much as possible, in line with a Vision Zero approach to work-related deaths”. This is good, but the actions promised in it will not achieve zero deaths.
We call on the European Union, its member state governments, and employers to genuinely commit, and take the actions needed, to achieve zero death at work. Europe needs much more to “walk the walk” than “talk the talk”.
This means a concerted joined-up effort to
- Prevent workplace accidents and occupational diseases, stopping exposure to hazardous including cancer-causing substances and be ready for pandemic
- Make physical and mental health of workers the point of departure when organizing work and designing the workplace.
This will require action at EU, national, sectoral and company level, with legislative as well as other initiatives involving trade unions and employers: including increased education, training, monitoring, prevention, protection, reporting, inspection, enforcement and penalties.
We expect and demand such action to be delivered by the next European Commission and European Parliament from 2024, in addition to the legislative action to be taken by the Commission in the current term. Zero deaths by 2030.
Pierre-Yves Dermagne, Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy and Labour, Belgium
Marius Budai, Minister of Labour and Social Protection, Romania
Johan Danielsson, Minister for Housing and Deputy Minister for Employment, Sweden
Georges Engel, Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, Luxembourg
Ana Mendes Godinho, Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Portugal
Claude Haagen, Minister of Social Security, Luxembourg
Eva Nordmark, Minister for Employment, Sweden
Andrea Orlando, Minister of Labour and Social Policies, Italy
Madalin-Cristian Vasilcoiu, State Secretary to the Minister for Labour and Solidarity Protection, Romania
Dennis Radtke MEP, Group of the European People's Party, Germany
Agnes Jongerius MEP, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, The Netherlands
Lucia Duriš Nicholsonová MEP, Renew Europe Group, Slovakia
Sara Matthieu MEP, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Belgium
Nikolaj Villumsen MEP, The Left group in the European Parliament, Denmark
Heléne Fritzon, MEP, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Sweden
Marianne Vind MEP, Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Denmark
Pepe Álvarez, General Secretary, UGT, Spain
Thierry Bodson, President, ABVV/FGTB, Belgium
Petra Bolster, International Secretary and General Board member, FNV, Netherlands
PierPaolo Bombardieri, General Secretary, UIL, Italy
Csaba Csóti, President, SZEF, Hungary
Plamen Dimitrov, President, CITUB, Bulgaria
Susan Flocken, European Director, ETUCE - CSEE
Susanna Gideonsson, President, Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO), Sweden
Nayla Glaise, President, Eurocadres
Reiner Hoffmann, President, DGB, Germany
Lidija Jerkič, President, ZSSS, Slovenia
Wolfgang Katzian, President, OEGB, Austria
Srdja Kekovic, Secretary General, Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro
Patricia King, General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Ireland
Maurizio Landini, General Secretary, CGIL, Italy
Melinda Mészáros, President of LIGA, Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions, Hungary
Fraces O’Grady, General Secretary, Trades Union Congress, UK
Marián Magdoško, President, KOZ SR, Slovakia
Mladen Novosel, president, Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (UATUC)
Diana Raitelaitienė, President, Lithuanian Federation of Forest and Wood Workers Trade Unions, and member of the Commission on Safety and Health at Work of the Republic of Lithuania, Lithuania
Vilim Ribić, President, Matica – Association of Croatian Trade Unions (MHS)
Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary, UNI Europa
Oliver Röpke, President, EESC Workers' Group
Marie-Hélène Ska, General Secretary, CSC, Belgium
Luigi Sbarra, General Secretary, CISL, Italy
Carol Scheffer, Chair of UNI Europa Women’s Committee
Krešimir Sever, President, Independent Trade Unions of Croatia (NHS)
Morten Skov Christiansen, Vice-president, Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, Denmark
Unai Sordo Calvo, General Secretary, CCOO, Spain
Livia Spera, General Secretary, ETF
Claes-Mikael Stahl, Deputy General Secretary, ETUC
Miranda Ulens, General Secretary, ABVV/FGTB, Belgium
Olivier Valentin, National Secretary, CGSLB/ACLVB
Luca Visentini, General Secretary, ETUC
Róbert Zlati, President, MASZSZ, Hungarian Trade Union Confederation
Collegium Ramazzini, Italy
The Society of Occupational Medicine, UK
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, UK
Professor Dr Alex Burdorf, Editor-in-Chief, Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
François Desriaux, Editor-in-Chief, Santé et Travail, France
Dr. Maja Metelko, Editor-in-Chief, ‘Delo in varnost’, Journal of Occupational Health and Fire Safety, Slovenia
Herbert Mulligan, Editor, Health & Safety Review, Ireland
Professor Rory O’Neil, Editor, Hazards Magazine, UK
Raymond Agius, Professor (Emeritus) of Occupational and Environmental Medicine,University of Manchester, UK
Maria Albin, Professor and Senior Consultant, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Alain Bobbio, National Secretary, ANDEVA (Association Nationale de Défense des Victimes de l'Amiante), France
Gábor Borhidi, Executive officer of the Hungarian National Commission for Occupational Health and Safety, Hungary
Bernard Dugué, Enseignant-chercheur en ergonomie, Bordeaux-INP, France
Bengt Järvholm, Senior Professor, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University
Antti Koivula, Director General, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland
Darko Palačić PhD, College of Occupational Safety and Health, Croatia
Nick Pahl, CEO, Society of Occupational Medicine, UK
Dimosthenis A. Sarigiannis, Professor in Environment and Health, University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Simon Schnabl, Head of the Department of Occupational, Process and Fire Safety, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr Jukka Takala, Past President, Board member, International Commission of Occupational Health, Finland