Workplace fatalities in Estonia rise to 15 in 2019

A VKG power station where a recent workplace fatality occured.
A VKG power station where a recent workplace fatality occured. Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

A total of 15 people died in work-related accidents in Estonia in 2019, according the Labor Inspectorate (Tööinspektsioon), up from 11 in 2018.

There were over 4,000 workplace accidents registered as a whole, during that time, compared with over 5,000 in 2018, BNS reports.

Maret Maripuu, Labor Inspectorate director general, said that the general workplace safety environment had nonetheless improved slightly, with companies exhibiting a greater willingness to engage in, and knowledge of, risk assessment, though the lack of change in numbers was worrisome.

"Unfortunately, no major changes in the Estonian work environment can be reported," Maripuu said.

"The number of serious accidents at work has remained essentially the same as a year earlier. We cannot be satisfied with the fact that the number of fatal accidents at work increased last year. If we add the 11 people who died in the workplace mainly due to a health problem, last year was pretty hard for our employees," she continued, according to BNS.

"Increased attention to risk management and regular medical checkups help maintain the work ability of our employees and thus the health of our businesses," Maripuu added.

Of the 4,117 occupational accidents registered in 2019, 3,014 were classified as "light" accidents, and 1,087 involved employees being gravely injured, on top of the 15 fatalities.

The severity of 132 incidents in 2019 is, however, still being determined.

In 2018, there were 5,167 occupational accidents, with 4,037 registered as light and 1,119 involving serious injury, plus 11 fatalities.

However, a change in how data is collected may be behind some of this fall – from January 2019 "light occupational accidents" were only recorded in cases where the employee was issued with a certificate of incapacity for work.

The highest number of accidents was registered in 2019 in Tallinn and Harju County, the most populous region of the country, and the metal products sector was the area with the highest number of occupational accidents, according to BNS. The fisheries sector saw the fewest accidents at work, and the highest number of falls in workplace accidents were recorded in national defense, public administration and the timber industry.

Abroad, the largest amount of occupational accidents involving Estonian employees took place perhaps unsurprisingly in Finland.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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