Fewer work-related injuries and occupational diseases in 1999
According to a report issued by the German Ministry of Labour in late 2000, the number of work-related injuries declined in 1999, as did the number of occupational diseases. On the negative side, the survey also reports a slight increase in the number of fatal accidents.
In a report on occupational health and safety (Bericht über den Stand von Sicherheit und Gesundheit bei der Arbeit und über das Unfall- und Berufskrankheitsgeschehen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland im Jahr 1999) issued in December 2000, theMinistry of Labour has presented comprehensive data on work-related accidents and occupational diseases in 1999. According to a statement by Walter Riester, the Minister of Labour, the risk of employees being injured or suffering from occupational diseases has never been lower in the entire history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
While 10 years ago, an average of 54 out of 1,000 employees suffered from work-related accidents in a year, in 1999 this ratio had been be reduced to 41 out of 1,000. In addition, a positive development could be observed in the area of occupational diseases; in comparison with the 1998 data the number of reported cases of occupational diseases decreased by 2.4% to 83,738 cases. The most frequently reported diseases concerned serious skin conditions (22,164), disc and spine conditions (13,217), and hearing problems caused by loud noise (12,448). In 1999, the fall in the number of compensation claims which were ultimately accepted by the Occupational Health and Safety Agencies (Berufsgenossenschaften) outpaced the decline in the number of original claims, and fell by 6.4%. However as the table below indicates, some of the statistics in the report indicate cause for concern. This is particularly true for fatal accidents and occupational diseases. While fatal occupational diseases increased by 0.1%, work-related fatal accidents increased by 0.5%, and fatal accidents while commuting by 5.6%.
|1999||1998||Change in %|
|Fatal work-related accidents||1,293||1,287||0.5|
|Total traffic accidents during commuting||248,324||249,484||-0.5|
|Fatal traffic accidents while commuting||855||810||5.6|
|Reported occupational diseases||83,738||85,787||-2.7|
|Occupational diseases/claims accepted||19,402||20,734||-6.4|
|Fatal occupational diseases||2,043||2,040||0.1|
|Costs of statutory insurance against work-related accidents||DEM 23.364 billion||DEM 23.435 billion||-0.3|
|Costs of first aid and accident prevention||DEM 1.416 billion||DEM 1.371 billion||3.3|
Source: Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs 2001.
To improve health and safety at the workplace further, Mr Riester emphasises the importance of EU Directives and guidelines. According to his statement, the Ministry plans to improve the enforcement of such regulations and in addition will help small and medium-sized companies to improve their working conditions. Such a strategy will also be supported by the efforts of the Occupational Health and Safety Agencies. In 1999, these agencies spent DEM 1.4 billion on accident prevention programmes and first aid, which was an increase of 3.3% compared with 1998.