Accidents at work are costly for both people and society

In 2018, 5,134 accidents at work were registered; 4,020 of those accidents were deemed minor, 1,105 were severe, and nine were fatal. The Health Insurance Fund compensated for certificates of incapacity for work for accidents on the job in the amount of 4.9 million euros.

Last year, the Estonian labour market was very active. In total, 131,650 companies operated here, of which 56,683 companies (only 43% of all companies) were under the supervision of the Labour Inspectorate. The Labour Inspectorate controls the safety of the work environment and the organisation of occupational health in companies where there is at least one contractual employee or where the members of the management board act as employees. Therefore, there is no overview of the working environment in companies where work is regulated by service contracts.

The largest employers in Estonia are still micro- or small-business enterprises, as about 86% of enterprises have less than 10 employees. Most of the businesses are in the commercial sector (approximately 9,400), construction (7,200), and real estate (5,700).

Last year, the highest number of accidents at work occurred in Tallinn and Harju County, where the majority of companies are located. However, in terms of the ratio, most accidents at work occurred in Järva County and Lääne-Viru County. The sectors with the highest numbers of accidents at work were the metal industry, trade, and construction. In terms of professions, the most accidents at work occurred with male truck drivers, transport workers, and builders. With women, most accidents on the job happened to shop employees, livestock farmers, and cleaners. Most accidents are caused by the loss of control of a machine, device, or animal. The second-most common reason is slipping, stumbling, or falling.

According to Maret Maripuu, Director General of the Labour Inspectorate, every company must ensure a good working environment: “We see that both employees and employers are becoming more aware of the need to create a safe and healthy working environment because of the benefits to both human health and business. People no longer cover up accidents at work and employers are actively seeking advice from us,” she said. “By following safety requirements, we can save both our own and our colleagues’ health and the society’s resources in a wider sense.

“At the moment, almost 5 million euros is spent on compensation for certificates of incapacity for work alone, not to mention the cost of one work accident for the society, which is an estimated 16,713 euros. We could avoid these costs if we paid more attention to safety,” Maripuu said.

Last year, 2,716 petitions were received by the labour dispute committees, which is a somewhat higher number compared to the previous year. People contacted the Labour Inspectorate for advice 45,870 times. 

The overview of the working environment is available on the website of the Labour Inspectorate