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IWMD: EFBWW and BWI say enough is enough: accidents at work must stop!


On this International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD24), the EFBWW and BWI remember all the victims of accidents at work and say once more: enough is enough! All workers deserve to return home safely after a hard day’s work.

Despite the ‘Enough is enough’ emergency motion sent by the EFBWW to the European Commission and other European institutions in 2021 and again in February 2024 calling for action to stop accidents at work; despite the success in establishing Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) as a fundamental right, nothing has changed. The number of accidents keeps on rising.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the latest estimate of work-related accidents and diseases nears 3 million, with 2.6 million deaths attributed to work-related diseases and 330,000 to fatal accidents. This represents an increase of more than 5% compared to 2015.

This worrying trend must stop. Year after year, trade unions dedicate the IWMD to workers who lose their lives at work or from work-related diseases. This must stop! The reality needs to change: irregular, criminal, fraudulent practices by unscrupulous companies must stop. Long and complex subcontracting chains are a major risk factor for accidents at work, especially for migrant and posted workers, who usually are at the bottom of the chain, do not receive proper training and often do not speak the language of the country in which they work.

The EFBWW and the BWI call on all of its affiliates to mobilise their members and allies to raise the awareness of workers, and to lobby employers and governments on this problem:

·       To limit subcontracting and ensure joint and several liability throughout the chain. We want direct jobs and quality jobs; 

·       To ban agencies and other intermediaries in posting in construction;

·       To provide safe and healthy workplaces for all workers via the strict compliance with EU-OSH law; 

·       To apply a strict practice of OSH training for all construction workers and specific training for professions like scaffolders or crane operators – towards European minimum standards for this training; 

·       To facilitate and support the work of labour inspectors;  

·       To create a financial support fund to assist posted and migrant workers and their families including third-country nationals in case of fatal accidents, severe injuries, as well as in case of occupational diseases; 

·       To set up digital solutions to identify and monitor in real time the presence of workers and self-employed on construction sites (check-in/-out) and with real-time access to data for labour inspectorates; 

·       To make public clients to set the example. Publicly funded construction sites should have the highest health and safety standards in place and enforced.