When we talk about accidents at work and occupational diseases, there is, as with the iceberg, the visible tip and a whole invisible part.

This is the case for the discourse heard on the subject: visibly, work accidents are decreasing, tell us the figures. Certainly and fortunately because today’s jobs and security conditions have nothing to do with the 1950s.

But what is less said is still the importance of the current figures: in 2021 there were nearly 90,000 commuting accidents, 118,000 declarations of occupational diseases and 600,000 accidents at work.

Terrible Figure of 645 Deaths

And this terrible figure of 645 deaths, which places France in a red lantern position among all its European neighbors, should raise questions about our prevention policy. Thus, while France has a fatal work accident rate of 3.53 per 100,000 workers, Germany is at 0.79, very close to the lowest European rate for the Netherlands (0.48).

The submerged part is also all those accidents at work that are not declared, either through ignorance or voluntarily. Because posting too many accidents at work for a company is not good, especially for its contribution rate which increases according to its loss experience. This is called under-declaration, and as this phenomenon is well known, it explains the transfer of one billion euros each year from the ATMP branch (Accidents at work and occupational diseases) to the disease who must bear the costs.

And when we talk about these figures, they do not include accidents occurring in the state civil service or in special schemes such as railway workers, another submerged part of our iceberg.

The other phenomenon observed this time for occupational diseases is under-recognition, i.e. the difficulty for patients to have them recognized that their pathology was contracted at work. This under-recognition is also explained by the lack of will on the part of the employers to officially recognize, by creating new tables, new pathologies such as psychosocial risks.

On the political side, we hear desires to improve things, we highlight prevention. But behind the promises have unfortunately been hiding for several years acts that are not going in the right direction: abolition of CHSCTs (health, safety and working conditions committees, reduction in resources allocated to CARSAT safety inspectors, reduction the number of labor inspectors and the severe lack of occupational physicians.

What will also happen to this submerged part if the government wants to further extend the retirement age? How many more accidents, illnesses or deaths for all those who could work even longer after 62? What is the life expectancy in good health beyond retirement? What is the fate of women in particular, who now represent more than a third of work accidents?

This article is originally published on force-ouvriere.fr