Self-reported accidents at work - key statistics
Data extracted in June 2017
Planned article update: 2022 (when the next adhoc module appears)
In 2013, 3 % of the EU population reported having had at least one non-fatal accident at work in the previous year.
Between 2007 and 2013, road traffic accidents during work in the EU decreased from 10 % of total work accidents to 8 %.
The highest incidence of work accidents in the EU was recorded by those working in construction, at 5 % of persons employed.
This article presents the main statistical indicators on non-fatal accidents at work in the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) collected in the ad hoc modules of the EU labour force survey (EU-LFS). The data presented in this article cover people aged 15 to 64.
The first part of the analysis concerns persons who were either in work at the time of the interview of the ad hoc module or who had worked at any time during the previous year. The second part — which analyses accidents at work based on work-related characteristics, i.e. by employment status, occupation and part-time work as well as by economic activity — relates only to persons in employment at the time of the interview.
Data included in this article complements information from the administrative data collection of fatal and non-fatal accidents at work (see article on European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW)), and other health and safety at work data from the same EU LFS ad hoc module on self-reported work-related health problems and risk factors.
An accident at work is a single event during the course of work which leads to physical or mental harm. Non-fatal accidents at work often involve considerable harm for the workers concerned and their families and they have the potential to force people, for example, to live with a permanent disability, to leave the labour market, or to change job; indeed, they result in a considerable number of days of work being lost. Fatal accidents at work are excluded from the data collected from the labour force survey, as questions concerning accidents at work were directly posed to people who were in work or people who had worked during the year prior to the survey (hence, by definition they were alive).
Incidence of accidents
In 2013, the proportion of people in the EU-28 who reported having had at least one non-fatal accident at work (hereafter referred to simply as an accident) during the previous 12 months was 2.9 %, in line with the 3.0 % share that was recorded in 2007 (see Figure 1). This figure includes both, people employed during the time of the interview and those not employed but who worked during the year before the interview.
The incidence of accidents in 2013 ranged among the EU Member States from less than 1.0 % in Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria to 5.2 % in France and 8.5 % in Finland. It should be noted that in some countries, including Finland and Switzerland, there was a higher share of people who had less serious accidents (less than four days absence or less than one day of absence). If such cases were excluded, Finland, for example, would rank only fifth among Member States. Comparing 2007 and 2013 data, the largest increase in percentage point terms was also observed for Finland, while the largest decreases were observed for Malta, Cyprus and Spain.
It should be noted that the significant differences between countries may originate not only in different working conditions and economic structures but also in differences concerning the treatment, compensation, reporting and prevention of accidents. The differences between countries mirror to some extent the differences in the administrative data collection European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW) and in self-reported work-related health problems and risk factors of the same ad hoc module of the EU labour force survey (EU-LFS).
In 2013, road traffic accidents during work accounted for 8.4 % of the total number of work accidents in the EU-28, somewhat lower than their 9.7 % share of the total observed in 2007. In 2013, the share of road traffic accidents was above 20.0 % of the total in Poland and Croatia, but fell to less than 5.0 % in Portugal, the Czech Republic and Finland.
Consequences of accidents
Figure 2 shows the length of absence from work for people who had an accident. In most EU Member States in 2013 more than half of the persons who had an accident were subsequently absent from work. This was, however, not the case in the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden, nor was it the case in Norway. Looking just at the Member States for which complete data are available, the most common length of absence due to an accident was more than three days but less than one month, although in Poland and the Czech Republic absences of one month or longer were more common.
Analysis by sex, age and educational attainment
Figure 3 presents accidents by sex, age and educational attainment, including again both, people who were in employment during the time of the interview and those who worked in the previous year.
A higher proportion of men than women in the EU-28 reported accidents in 2013 (3.5 % and 2.3 % respectively). A number of factors may influence this, such as gender differences in occupation, in the economic activity sector or in the time spent working (for example between part and full-time).
For the EU-28 as a whole, the incidence of accidents did not vary greatly depending on a woman’s age. For men the situation was different, with younger men (aged 15 to 34) more likely to have had an accident than older men (aged 55 to 64): for the former the incidence was 4.0 % in 2013 while for the latter it was 3.0 %, with a 3.4 % incidence for middle-aged working men (aged 35 to 54).
Accident rates differ by the level of education for both, men and women: There were more accidents among those with a relatively low educational attainment (e.g. lower secondary education, which most often ends between 14 - 16 years of age) and less for those with a higher educational attainment (such as tertiary education at university level). Education was a stronger predictor of accidents at work than age, and it was stronger for men than for women: in 2013, men in the EU with at most a lower secondary level of education were twice as likely to have experienced an accident as men with a tertiary level of education. Note that these differences related to education may be influenced by differences in the occupations of people with different levels of educational attainment and possibly also their age.
Analysis by employment status, occupation and part-time work
Figure 4 presents accidents by characteristics of work: whether a person is an employee or self-employed, their occupation, whether they work full or part-time and how frequently they work atypical hours. The data referred to in this section is based on persons in employment at the time of the interview.
In the EU-28 in 2013, the incidence of accidents was 3.6 % for men and 2.4 % for women (3.0 % on average). Accidents were more common among employees than among self-employed persons, with a similar gap observed for men (0.7 percentage points) as for women (0.6 percentage points). This gap may reflect to some extent the nature of the work done by these two different groups, with self-employed persons likely to spend some or all of their time on managerial or administrative tasks, where the risk of accidents is likely to be less.
Lower proportions of accidents were reported for managers, professionals, technicians and associate professionals, clerical support workers, service and sales workers. By contrast, higher proportions were recorded for skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers, craft and related trades workers on the one hand as well as for plant and machine operators, assemblers and elementary occupations on the other hand. The differences between these groups of occupations were significantly lower for women than for men.
In 2013, full-time workers were more likely to experience accidents than part-time workers in the EU-28, possibly because they are simply at work for longer and are therefore exposed to the risk of accidents for a longer period. The gap between full and part-time workers was relatively small for women (0.2 percentage points) and somewhat larger for men (0.6 percentage points); note that the share of women who work part-time is much higher than the equivalent share for men.
The final analysis in Figure 4 concerns atypical working hours. People in the EU-28 in 2013 who usually worked atypical hours were more likely to experience an accident than those who worked such hours only sometimes or not at all; this situation was observed for both men and women. For men, there was little difference in the incidence of accidents between people who sometimes worked atypical hours and those who never did such work. However, for women there was a 0.4 percentage point gap, with women who sometimes worked atypical hours more likely to experience an accident.
Analysis by economic activity of persons employed
As already mentioned before, one of the reasons why the incidence of accidents may be higher for men than women is linked to economic activities (based on NACE). Indeed, the incidence of accidents at work varies greatly by economic activity sector (see Figure 5), and is positively skewed towards male-dominated activities. Within the EU-28 in 2013, the highest incidence of accidents was recorded among those working in construction, at 4.8 % of persons employed, 1.2 percentage points higher than the share recorded for industry (which had the next highest incidence). The lowest incidence was for other services (which includes, among others, financial, real estate and business services, as well as public administration, education, human health, social work, arts, entertainment and recreation services) where the incidence of accidents was 2.6 %, just over half of what was recorded for construction.
In a majority of EU Member States (for which complete or nearly complete data are available — see Table 1) the highest incidence of accidents in 2013 was reported for persons employed in construction. By contrast, in the Czech Republic, Austria, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the highest incidence was reported for agriculture, forestry and fishing, while in Spain, Hungary and Slovenia the incidence of accidents was higher for industry than it was for construction.
Source data for tables and graphs
In December 2008, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EC) No 1338/2008 on Community statistics on public health and health and safety at work. The Regulation is designed to ensure that health statistics provide adequate information for all EU Member States to monitor Community actions in the field of public health and health and safety at work.
In April 2011, a European Commission Regulation (EU) No 349/2011 on statistics on accidents at work was adopted specifying in detail the variables, breakdowns and metadata that EU Member States are required to deliver; this legislation is being implemented in a number of phases.
LFS ad hoc module
The labour force survey is carried out as a sample survey of people living in private households every quarter. In addition, since 1999, an ad hoc module is added to the survey each year focusing on a particular issue: in 2007 and 2013 the ad hoc modules included questions concerning self-reported accidents at work, work-related health problems, and factors that can adversely affect mental well-being or physical health. Eurostat plans to carry out another ad hoc module on accidents at work for reference year 2020.
For further information on ad hoc modules from the labour force survey please refer to a background article on this subject.
The labour force survey is conducted in all EU Member States as well as some EFTA and enlargement countries: data from the 2013 ad hoc module are available for all EU Member States except for the Netherlands, as well as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.
While the labour force survey covers all persons aged 15 and over, the data presented in this article concern people aged 15 to 64. The questions concerning accidents at work were asked to people who were either in work at the time of the labour force survey or who had worked at any time during the previous year.
The data presented includes accidents that occurred i) at work (including during breaks) or ii) in the course of the respondents work (if not on premises; therefore excluding off-site breaks and travelling). All other types of accidents are excluded, for example travelling between home and the workplace (or travelling for breaks); home and leisure accidents; transport accidents in the course of private activities. Occupational diseases or illnesses are also excluded. Only accidents that resulted in injury are included, regardless of whether they needed treatment or not and regardless of whether or not they resulted in sick leave. Fatal accidents (which are rare) are not covered by the survey.
The analysis of the length of absence due to an accident is based strictly on days of absence related to the accident/problem, not subsequent consequences (such as unemployment).
Data presented by activity are based on NACE Rev. 1.1 in 2007 and NACE Rev. 2 in 2013: although the same names are used for the activity aggregates presented in this article (such as industry or construction) the coverage of these aggregates differs between the two versions of the classification and should not be directly compared.
Data by occupation are presented according to the international standard classification of occupations which is maintained by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Data for 2007 are based on ISCO-88 while data for 2013 are based on ISOC-08.
Comparison with the administrative data collection
On an annual basis, Eurostat also collects administrative data on accidents at work (referred to as European statistics on accidents at work (ESAW)); see the accidents at work statistics article for more information. Compared with this annual collection, the labour force survey data used in this article give the following additional information:
- accidents with less than four days of absence from work;
- more detail concerning the occurrence of road traffic accidents;
- analysis by a range of additional socioeconomic characteristics (such as educational level, occupation and professional status);
- probably an improved comparability in relation to some issues of under-reporting between EU Member States.
By contrast, the administrative data (ESAW) provide information on fatal accidents as well as nine variables on causes and circumstances of accidents, such as the material agent (for example buildings, structures, machinery, tools, objects, chemicals and animals) involved in the accident, which are not covered by the labour force survey.
A safe, healthy working environment is a crucial factor in an individual’s quality of life and is also of collective concern. Governments across the EU Member States recognise the social and economic benefits of better health and safety at work. Reliable, comparable, up-to-date statistical information is vital for setting policy objectives and adopting suitable policy measures and preventive actions. For more information please refer to this article based on administrative data (ESAW).
- Health and safety at work (hsw), see:
- Accidents at work and other work-related health problems (source LFS) (hsw_apex)
- Accidents at work (hsw_ac)
ESMS metadata files
- Accidents at work (ESAW, 2008 onwards) (ESMS metadata file — hsw_acc_work_esms)
- Accidents at work and other work-related health problems (source LFS) (ESMS metadata file — hsw_apex_esms)