Downward trend in work-related accidents in 2006

The 2006 annual report presented by the minister of social affairs and labour on developments in health and safety at work in Hungary was published in June 2007. The report contains comparative statistical data on occupational accidents. It also examines employers’ experiences concerning the investigation of work-related accidents, the latest developments in research and training, relevant legislation, as well as the results of targeted research and on-the-spot inspections.

The Hungarian Labour Inspectorate (Országos Munkavédelmi és Munkaügyi Főfelügyelőség, OMMF) is a central public administrative body which operates within the statutory framework and takes action against employers who breach employment legislation. OMMF is responsible for monitoring employers’ records of work-related accidents and, based on the findings, it prepares yearly reports on the state of health and safety at workplaces. The reports (available in Hungarian) are presented to the government by the minister of social affairs and labour, who is responsible for ensuring occupational health and safety (OHS) in the country’s labour market.

Occupational health and safety in 2006

The OMMF report for 2006 on OHS concludes that the total number of work-related accidents in 2006 was lower than in 2005 and that the incidence of accidents per 100,000 employees had shown a downward trend in 2005 and 2006 (see table below). The report highlights that the number of occupational accidents decreased in 2006 in all categories of accidents.

Incidence of work-related accidents, 2000–2006
Table Layout
Year Incidence of work-related accidents Incidence per 1,000 employees Total fatal work-related accidents Incidence per 100,000 employees Total number of employees
2000 27,214 7.1 151 3.9 3,829,100
2001 25,536 6.6 124 3.2 3,844,500
2002 25,284 6.5 163 4.2 3,870,600
2003 25,745 6.6 133 3.4 3,921,900
2004 23,872 6.1 160 4.1 3,900,400
2005 23,971 6.1 125 3.2 3,901,500
2006 22,685 5.8 123 3.1 3,930,100

Source: OMMF, 2007

By sector of economic activity, the largest proportion of work-related accidents in 2006 occurred in wholesale and retail trade (7.5% of the total), road transport (7.1%), the food industry (6.8%), construction (6.4%) and manufacturing of metalworking machinery (4.5%). The number of fatal work-related accidents did not change in 2006 compared with 2005. Although at a declining rate, construction remained the sector with the highest proportion of fatal work-related accidents (28.5%), followed by the processing industry (13.8%) and agriculture (13%).

The number of work-related diseases and increased exposure to hazardous substances slightly decreased in 2005 and 2006. In sectoral terms, it was the processing industry that recorded the largest proportion of work-related diseases, followed by mining, healthcare and social care.

Monitoring OHS – changes and deficiencies

The system of monitoring occupational health and safety has seen fundamental changes in recent years. While in 2006 such monitoring was carried out by the National Public Health and Medical Officer Service (Állami Népegészségügyi és Tisztiorvosi Szolgálat, ÁNTSZ), in 2007, OMMF took over these tasks.

Deficiencies in investigating work-related accidents were often found at companies where OHS professionals were employed only ‘on paper’, according to the report. Common deficiencies include: the absence of a person designated as being responsible for company-level OHS measures, and the ambiguous formulation of accident records so that the company can avoid the insurance costs incurred by such accidents.

The estimated proportion of occupational accidents not recorded by OMMF remained at 35%–40% in 2006.

Research and education in OHS

The main body for research and training in the area of OHS is the Public Foundation for Research on Occupational Safety (Munkavédelmi Kutatási Közalapítvány, MKK). However, MKK received no new commissions in 2006 from either private sector organisations or institutions covered by the state budget, and therefore its research and development activities were limited to working on the basis of previous successful tenders.

OHS professionals are trained at the National Institute of OHS Training and Further Education Ltd (Országos Munkavédelmi Képző és Továbbképző Kft., OMKT). In 2006, the number of people completing a higher-level OHS examination stood at 81, while 311 people completed intermediate-level training.

Social partner representation

The Occupational Health and Safety Commission (Munkavédelmi Bizottság) operates as a specialised standing body within Hungary’s tripartite National Interest Reconciliation Council (Országos Érdekegyeztető Tanács, OÉT). The commission is responsible for conducting national-level negotiations, involving the social partners, on issues related to healthy and safe working conditions.

In the course of negotiations in 2006, employer representatives commented on the national programme on OHS and stated that the most important financial incentive for businesses would be the establishment of a health insurance system which would create and develop the conditions for healthy and safe working conditions. They claimed that the reorganisation of MKK, which had practically resulted in the foundation’s closure, meant that carrying out OHS-related research had become much more difficult. Employer representatives expressed support for OMMF’s ideas about how to improve this situation.

Katalin Balogh, Institute for Political Science, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

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