You are more likely to die at work in Latvia than anywhere else in the European Union, according to the latest data from Eurostat, for the year 2021, published October 5.
The numbers suggest workplace fatalities are around 2.5 times more likely in Latvia than the EU average, and 4 times more likely than in countries such as Sweden and Germany.
Across the EU in 2021, there were 2.88 million non-fatal accidents that resulted in at least four calendar days of absence from work and 3 347 fatal accidents in the EU, a ratio of approximately 860 non-fatal accidents for every fatal accident.
For Latvia the figures are extremely sobering. There were 38 fatal accidents at work in 2021 and 2,272 non-fatal accidents, a ratio of approximately 60 non-fatal accidents for every fatal accident.
In 2021, the number of fatal accidents per 100 000 employed persons ranged from less than 1.00 in the Netherlands, Greece, Finland, Sweden and Germany to more than 4.00 fatal accidents per 100 000 persons employed in Latvia. For comparison, Sweden with a population of just over 10 million recorded just one more workplace death (39) than Latvia, with a population of 1.9 million.
The highest incidence rates among the EU Member States were recorded in the Baltic Member States of Lithuania and Latvia, with 3.75 and 4.29 fatal accidents per 100 000 persons employed, respectively. Estonia was a slightly safer place to hold down a job with an equivalent rate of 2.23. There were 49 workplace faalities in Lithuania in 2021 and 13 in Estonia.
All three Baltic states were deadlier than the EU average, where there were 1.76 fatal accidents per 100 000 persons employed in 2021.
Latvia's very high proportion of fatalities to non-fatal accidents is partly explained by the fact that the number of non-fatal accidents is actually among the lowest in the EU, which may suggest that many more accidents go unreported. Only Greece, Bulgaria and Romania have lower incidence of non-fatal accidents.
According to Eurostat: "Particularly low incidence rates for non-fatal accidents may reflect an under-reporting problem linked to: poorly-established reporting systems, little financial incentive for victims to report, non-binding legal obligations for the employers, and so on. In the same way, well-established reporting/recognition systems may often explain the high incidence rate in some countries. While the phenomenon of low non-fatal incidence rates can in part be considered to reflect under-reporting the situation for incidence rates of fatal accidents is different as it is much more difficult to avoid reporting a fatal accident."
The statistics are part of the European statistics on accidents at work (ESAW) administrative data collection exercise. An accident at work is defined in ESAW methodology as "a discrete 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 cause at least four full calendar days of absence from work (they are sometimes also called ‘serious accidents at work’)."
In another dataset released by Eurostat, known as the 'standardised incident rate', Latvia is placed third behind Lithuania and Malta for workplace deaths. Standardised incidence rates assume that the relative sizes of economic activities within each national economy are the same as within the EU as a whole and are intended to give a more neutral comparison of the health and safety situation in different countries.
On this basis and across the EU, there were, on average, 2.23 fatal accidents per 100 000 persons employed in 2021, while there were 1 624 non-fatal accidents per 100 000 persons employed. In 2021, the highest standardised incidence of fatal accidents at work was recorded in Lithuania (5.45 deaths per 100 000 persons employed), followed by Malta (4.98 deaths per 100 000 persons employed), Latvia (4.73 deaths per 100 000 persons employed) and France (4.45 deaths per 100 000 persons employed). At the other end of the range, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands recorded the lowest standardised incidence rates among the EU Member States with fewer than 1.2 fatal accidents per 100 000 persons employed in 2021.
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