LO request: No more fatal accidents at Swedish workplaces

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The Minister of Labour, Sven Otto Littorin, invited the social partners to discussions on the Government’s policy on working environment issues. LO considers the working environment situation to be disquieting as certain aspects have been impaired since the non-Socialist Government came into power.
The LO request is that we cannot tolerate any more fatal accidents at workplaces but according to statistics for 2007 from the Work Environment Authority, fatal accidents at the places of work increased from 68 to 77.

- The Government has a blind spot as regards working life. The importance of adequate work environments is discussed but there are no proposals for improvements. And when it comes to serious matters such as fatal accidents at work, no particulars are delivered. The working environment issues are instead hit by economic cuts. The lack of political will is miserable, Ulla Lindqvist, LO Vice President, says.

Research and development, occupational health service, rehabilitation, work organisation and skills development are among the issues needed to be discussed. The judicial system also needs to be tightened up in order to de facto prosecute working environment crimes.

The Work Environment Authority has been affected by the Government’s axes which imply that the number of environment inspectors as well as workplace visits will be reduced considerably. Safety delegates give evidence that the Work Environment Authority does not even have time to inspect workplaces which have apparent defects.

In the discussions with the Minister of Labour, LO accentuated the following:
- 100 persons die every year owing to asbestos exposure
- There is more than one death weekly in workplace accidents
- More than 30 000 have sick-pay per year owing to workplace injuries
- Every year many workers are worn out owing to heavy lifts, monotonous work postures and continuous shortage of staff
- Every year many young people are injured at places of work, sometimes with lifelong injuries. In 2007, 3 674 young people reported work injuries.

Ulla Lindqvist states that the LO affiliates consider work environment issues to be enormously important. There are essential defects commonly causing wearing injuries (which may inflict lifelong suffering especially within professions dominated by women) as well as serious accidents and deaths among LO workers.

Explicit targets and measures are necessary to secure a better working environment. LO is prepared to take long-term measures so that the members of the LO affiliates can work safely and securely until retirement.