Are EU citizens safe at work?

In 2018, almost 2.4 million non-fatal work accidents resulted in workers being absent from work for four days or more in the EU, while 2954 work-related accidents were fatal.

Men were considerably more likely than women to have an accident at work. In 2018, almost 8 out of 10 (78 %) non-fatal accidents and the vast majority (96 %) of fatal accidents at work in the EU involved men.

Standardised incidence rate of fatal accidents at work on the decrease in the EU

Another way to analyse the information on accidents at work is to express the number of accidents in relation to the number of persons employed adjusted to reflect the relative size of the economic sectors at EU level; this produces a ratio referred to as the standardized incidence rate.

The standardised incidence rate has fallen over the past years in the EU: from 2.87 fatal accidents per 100000 workers in 2010 to 2.21 in 2018.

This information is published to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, an annual international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work, which is held on 28 April.

Among individual EU Member states, the highest rates were recorded in Luxembourg with 6.42 fatal accidents per 100 000 workers, followed by Romania (5.27), Latvia (4.69), Cyprus (4.51) and Austria (4.31). In contrast, the Netherlands registered the lowest standardised incidence rate in 2018 with 0.87 fatal accidents per 100 000 workers. This was followed by Germany (1.00), Finland (1.28), Sweden (1.66) and Greece (1.69).

For more information:

  • An accident at work is defined as an occurrence during the course of work, which leads to physical or mental harm. Fatal accidents at work are those that lead to the death of the victim within one year of the accident taking place. Non-fatal accidents at work are defined as those that imply at least four full calendar days of absence from work (they are sometimes also called ‘serious accidents at work’). The number of accidents in a particular year is likely to be related to some extent to the overall level of economic activity of a country and the total number of people employed in its economy.
  • Incidence rates (the number of accidents in relation to the number of persons employed) vary between economic sectors, as there are some economic activities, which expose some workers to higher risks of accidents. Examples of high-risk sectors include agriculture, construction and transport. Countries with a higher share of more risky economic activities are more likely to have higher incidence rates, even if measures of preventing accidents are equal.
  • Standardised incidence rates aim to eliminate differences in the structures of countries’ economies. They correspond to the number of accidents per 100 000 workers adjusted for the relative sizes of economic sectors at EU level.
  • The economic activities covered in this news item are NACE sections A and C-N: ‘Agriculture; industry and construction (except mining); services of the business economy’.
  • For further information, you can read more about accidents at work across all economic activities in these Statistics Explained articles: Accidents at work statistics, Accidents at work — statistics by economic activity and Accidents at work — statistics on causes and circumstances.