28 April was the international occupational health and safety day when people remembered those who have died or been injured in occupational accidents and attention was brought on dangers in the work environment. In Estonia, almost every fourth occupational accident happens when handling machinery or equipment.
According to the international labour organisation ILO, there are nearly 313 million occupational accidents per year in the world that end in injuries and 350,000 that are fatal. There are approximately 2 million terminal occupational diseases. Calculated into economic indicators, it means nearly 4 per cent from the world’s economic growth.
According to the Director General of the Labour Inspectorate Maret Maripuu, there are 14 occupational accidents every day in Estonia. Mostly these are small accidents, but unfortunately the number of serious and fatal occupational accidents has also increased. Nearly 35% of accidents happen during the worker’s first year which means these are mainly related with lack of experience and insufficient instruction.
“Acquiring proper and safe work manners already during training, consistent guiding of new workers and sticking to the safety requirements are the key words that every employer should constantly remind themselves,” said Maripuu. “Considerable number of accidents happen when working with machinery and equipment. Often, the accident is caused by the workers themselves, by removing the protection device. They think they are already experienced enough and so they sacrifice safety for the sake of convenience. But the consequences can be very serious,” she added.
Maripuu stressed that a worker has the right to refuse a job that could threaten their life or that of others, or that does not allow to follow environment safety requirements. “In such circumstances, it is vital to immediately notify the employer without any embarrassment, because the worker’s and colleagues’ lives and health are at stake,” she said.
Last year, Labour Inspectorate registered 5,081 occupational accidents, 26 of which ended fatally. Nearly a quarter of the accidents were caused by losing control over a machine, tool or equipment. Even tools which at first seem safe, such as a blender at a juice bar, a hair straightener at a beauty salon or a knife sharpener in a kitchen may become dangerous if not handled properly.
Via the portal http://www.tooelu.ee, the Labour Inspectorate offers a collection of practical safety tips for workers using machinery, transportation means and different tools, and also for employers who are responsible for the safety of workers using machinery.
Labour Inspectorate wishes everyone a safe working environment!