The value of occupational safety and health and the societal costs of work-related injuries and diseases
The need to improve working life in the European Union (EU) is still urgent today. In 2016, approximately 2.4 million non-fatal accidents requiring at least 4 days of absence from work and 3,182 fatal accidents were reported in EU Member States. In addition to these accident rates, figures from 2013 show that 7.9 % of the workforce suffered from occupational health problems, of which 36% resulted in absence from work for at least 4 days (Eurostat, 2018a, 2018c). These occupational injuries, diseases and deaths result in high economic costs to individuals, employers, governments and society.... Negative effects may include costly early retirement, the loss of skilled staff, absenteeism as well as presenteeism (when employees go to work despite illness, increasing the likelihood of mistakes) and high medical costs and insurance premiums. In a previous project, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) estimated that 3.9 % of global gross domestic product (GDP) and 3.3 % of European GDP is spent on dealing with occupational injuries and diseases (EU-OSHA, 2017a). This percentage may vary widely between countries, in particular between western and non-western countries, depending on the industrial mix, legislative context and prevention incentives. Understanding the magnitude of the problem calls for a reliable and comprehensive estimate of occupational injury and disease costs to society. It is vital for policy-makers to be aware of these costs to help them to set priorities. Insight into the financial consequences of occupational injury and disease provides governments, policy-makers and employers’ organisations with relevant data for the purpose of developing occupational safety and health (OSH) policies and agreements. Moreover, insight into these costs will help to raise awareness of the magnitude of the problem and will contribute to a more efficient allocation of resources for OSH.