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First national survey on workplace accidents and health problems

In September 2008, the National Statistical Service of Greece published the findings of a survey on work-related accidents and health problems, conducted during the second quarter of 2007. Craft, foreign and low-educated workers reported the most accidents, while skilled agricultural and fishery workers reported more health problems. More men than women reported accidents and health issues. Greece has since adopted the New European Strategy for Health and Safety at Work.

About the survey

For the first time ever, the National Statistical Service of Greece (Εθνική Στατιστική Υπηρεσία Ελλάδας, ESYE) has conducted a special survey on occupational accidents and work-related health problems. The survey was carried out during the second quarter of 2007, in parallel with the quarterly Labour Force Survey, and the results were published in September 2008. The survey was governed by the provisions of European Commission Regulation (EC) No. 341/2006 adopting the specifications of the 2007 ad hoc module on accidents at work and work-related health problems provided for by Council Regulation (EC) No. 577/98 and amending Regulation (EC) No. 384/2005. These provisions specified the population to be surveyed and the characteristics regarding which information should be collected.

Main findings

Incidence of workplace accidents

Out of a sample of about 4.73 million respondents, 85,010 people (1.8% of all respondents) stated that they had at least one accident in their place of work during the 12 months before the survey was carried out (Table 1).

In terms of occupational classification, the highest percentage of accidents occurred among craft and related trade workers (4.7%) and plant and machine operators and assemblers (3.8%), and the lowest among professionals (0.2%) and clerks (0.4%).

Table 1: Incidence of workplace accidents among workers over the last 12 months
Total respondents At least one accident No accidents No answer
4,730,350 85,010 4,536,250 109,090
100% 1.8% 95.9% 2.3%

Notes: The question on whether an accident occurred in the workplace was directed at people who worked during the survey period, or who had worked during the 12 months prior to the survey. In accordance with the survey methodology, accidents did not include road accidents occurring during travel to and from work.

Source: ESYE, 2008

The percentage of workplace accidents is greater for men (2.6%) than for women (0.6%) (Table 2). This can be explained by the fact that more men than women are employed in construction and industry, where most occupational accidents are reported.

The proportion of workplace accidents among workers of other nationalities is almost four times greater (5.6%) than the figure for Greek workers (1.5%). This is because more immigrant workers than Greeks are employed in construction and industry, in precarious employment relationships and in the informal economy.

Table 2: Workers reporting at least one workplace accident over the last 12 months, by gender, nationality, age group and level of education (%)
Categories of workers reporting a workplace accident At least one accident
Gender Men 2.6
  Women 0.6
Nationality Greek 1.5
  Other 5.6
Level of education Third-level education 0.7
  Secondary education 2.1
  Primary education 3.0
  No school at all 2.9
Age group 15–24 years 1.5
  25–54 years 1.8
  55–64 years 2.3
  65 years 1.2

Notes: The question on whether an accident occurred in the workplace was directed at people who worked during the survey period, or who had worked during the 12 months prior to the survey. In accordance with the survey methodology, accidents did not include road accidents occurring during travel to and from work.

Source: ESYE, 2008

Work-related health problems

More than seven million respondents answered the survey question on work-related health problems. Of these, 613,145 people – or 8.7% of all respondents who worked during or prior to the survey period – reported health problems during the 12 months before the survey was carried out. The respondents believed that these problems were caused or exacerbated by their work. More men than women reported work-related health problems (Table 3).

Table 3: Workers reporting work-related health problems, by gender
Gender Total respondents At least one health problem No health problems No answer
Total 7,061,606 613,145 6,183,332 265,129
% 100 8.7 87.6 3.8
Men 4,013,077 359,604 3,521,690 131,783
% 100 9.0 87.8 3.3
Women 3,048,529 253,541 2,661,642 133,346
% 100 8.3 87.3 4.4

Notes: The question on whether a work-related health problem occurred was directed at people who worked during the survey period, or who had worked during the 12 months prior to the survey. The percentages in the table refer to the total number of people who stated that they suffered during the last 12 months from a health problem caused or exacerbated by their work. In the event that respondents reported more than one health problem caused or exacerbated by their work during the last 12 months, they stated which problem they considered to be more important.

Source: ESYE, 2008

The percentage of people who reported a work-related health problem is highest for those who were working or had worked as skilled agricultural and fishery workers (12.9%), with the second highest percentage noted among craft and related trades workers (9.8%). The lowest percentages were reported by professionals (3.2%) and clerks (3.3%).

The health problems reported most frequently involved musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), mainly in the lower back. No significant differences arose in the problems reported by men and women. A few exceptions in this regard included problems involving MSD in the lower extremities, which were reported almost twice as often by women, and heart disease or other problems of the circulatory system, which were reported more often by men (Table 4).

Table 4: Main health problems caused or exacerbated by work, by gender (%)
  Men Women Total
Joint or muscle problems, located mainly in the neck, shoulders and arms 11.6 14.9 13.0
MSD, located mainly in the lower extremities 12.2 21.3 15.9
MSD, located mainly in the lower back 29.1 27.0 28.3
Lung or respiratory problems 9.4 5.1 7.7
Skin problems 1.2 1.6 1.3
Hearing problems 1.0 0.2 0.7
Stress, depression or anxiety problems 4.1 4.0 4.1
Headaches, eye pain or fatigue 4.0 3.8 3.9
Heart disease, heart attack or other circulatory problems 16.8 9.5 13.7
Inflection (viral, microbial infection) 5.2 6.5 5.7
Other problems 4.8 5.2 4.9
Not stated 0.6 0.9 0.7

Notes: The question on whether a work-related health problem occurred was directed at people who worked during the survey period, or who had worked during the 12 months prior to the survey. The percentages in the table refer to the total number of people who stated that they suffered during the last 12 months from a health problem caused or exacerbated by their work. In the event that respondents had more than one health problem caused or exacerbated by their work during the last 12 months, they stated which problem they considered to be more important.

Source: ESYE, 2008

Adoption of European strategy

Greece has since adopted the New European Strategy for Health and Safety at Work and has set the goal of reducing workplace accidents by 25% within the reference period of 2007–2012.

In order to reach this objective, the Ministry of Employment and Social Protection (Υπουργός Απασχόλησης και Κοινωνικής Προστασίας) has prioritised the implementation of the following three elements:

  • updating the list of occupational illnesses;
  • reducing workplace accidents;
  • strengthening and modernising monitoring mechanisms.

In August 2007, a committee was set up with the mission of incorporating the European list of occupational illnesses into national legislation. This committee recently completed its work and drafted a new list of such illnesses. It now needs to define the criteria for recognition of these illnesses, which are necessary in order to precisely establish the right to compensation of all kinds.

Further information

For more information on the topic, see the 2005 study by the Labour Institute (Ινστιτούτο Εργασίας, ΙΝΕ) of the Greek General Confederation of Labour (Γενική Συνομοσπονδία Εργατών Ελλάδας, GSEE) and the Confederation of Public Servants (Ανώτατη Διοίκηση Ενώσεων Δημοσίων Υπαλλήλων, ADEDY) on ‘Health and safety at work in Greece’ (GR0611019D, GR0506103F).

Sofia Lampousaki, Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)



Page last updated: 23 March, 2009
About this document
  • ID: GR0901019I
  • Author: Sofia Lampousaki
  • Institution: Labour Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)
  • Country: Greece
  • Language: EN
  • Publication date: 23-03-2009
  • Subject: Work-related health outcomes