Last year had the biggest incidence of accidents at work in the past decade

The Labour Inspectorate registered 5082 accidents at work last year. Due to accidents at work, roughly 1.3 million work hours were forfeited in Estonia.

Of the registered accidents at work, in 4036 cases workers suffered minor physical injuries, in 1019 cases – serious injuries, and 26 accidents at work ended with fatalities. Serious accidents at work occurred mostly in the metal industry, transport sector, warehousing, and the building sector. Sixty-five per cent of accidents at work involved men. All people who died were men. Most accidents at work happened to 25–34-year-old young men. Broken down by counties, the highest incidence of accidents was in Tallinn and Harjumaa. The numbers of accidents at work decreased in Tartumaa, Lääne-Virumaa, and Läänemaa.

According to the Director General of the Labour Inspectorate, Maret Maripuu, 35% of accidents at work involved new recruits. “Inadequate training and instruction at the place of work is very often a cause why employees working their first job or having worked less than a year in a new job are victims of accidents at work. Non-compliance with workplace safety requirements was the second reason. The high number of accidents at work and the work lost as a result is detrimental to the competitiveness of our companies. There have already been cases where foreign partners withdraw from contracts with Estonian companies because the workplace safety values are seriously lacking,” says Maripuu.

As regards the supervision of labour relations, the most challenging areas are the organisation of the working and rest time of staff and insufficient information about the organisation of working time and conditions of paying wages to employees. Last year, there were 2671 labour disputes. Most disputes were in the building sector, trade, transportation, and warehousing.

“Last year, the scope of supervision by the Labour Inspectorate grew by 16% compared to earlier periods. However, it is not possible to have a labour inspector observe each worker. Ensuring safe and health-sustaining working environment for workers must become an inherent part of our work culture, even without the fear of labour inspectors,” adds Maripuu.

Last year, the Labour Inspectorate visited 4436 companies where 20,004 violations were detected. The scope of consultation services grew about 5% over the year. Advice was offered by phone, e-mails, and during appointments in a total of 56,352 cases. Last year, the Labour Inspectorate consulted 212 companies about creating a better working environment. A majority of the consultations were as a response to invitations from employers.

Read about the overview of the working environment here.