Today, on International Workers’ Memorial Day, EFFAT reminds that despite employing half of the world population, the agriculture sector remains one of the highest fatalities.
As the ILO confirms, farm workers run at least twice the risk of dying on the job as workers in other sectors. Agricultural machinery incidents, regular fatal exposure to pesticides, sun and heat, along with other widespread under-reporting of deaths, injuries and occupational diseases paint a black picture of the health and safety conditions of the sector.
EFFAT and social partners have this issue at heart.
Two important EU Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Directives are part of the scope of Social Conditionality, the key progressive element we achieved last year in the new Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reform, linking CAP subsidies to the respect of workers’ rights. If effectively implemented, social conditionality can greatly contribute to raising health and safety standards in agriculture, reducing the number of accidents at work. EFFAT reiterates its call to member states for a prompt implementation of Social Conditionality in their national CAP strategic plans.
As many Ukrainians are currently fleeing their country in search of protection, a considerable workforce may join the European fields for the upcoming harvesting season. EFFAT warns against any attempt to lower workers’ rights and the frequency of labour inspections against requests for productivity increases. EFFAT calls for fair integration of all refugees in the labour market as to secure full equal treatment in the workplace, fight against any form of exploitation and good working conditions, including training to prevent work accidents and deaths.
Finally, with GEOPA, our social partners in the agriculture sector, and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), we have launched the OiRa tool to increase occupational safety and health (OSH) standards in the agriculture sector while simplifying the compliance requirements for employers.
Kristjan Bragason, EFFAT General Secretary, said: ‘It is absurd to die at work. And it is intolerable to face such a reality when political will could actually make a difference. EFFAT represents many sectors with high rates of precarious work also linked to widespread poor health and safety conditions. Zero death at work is the number one priority for the organization’.
On IWMD 2022, on the initiative of the ETUC, EFFAT joins national Ministers, MEPs, trade union leaders and top occupational health and safety experts in co-signing the Zero Death Manifesto and calling for an increase in workplace health and safety training, inspections, and sanctions to end workplace fatalities by 2030.