Sectors and occupations

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Klaus Kuhl, Kooperationsstelle Hamburg IFE GmbH, Germany

Introduction

Traditionally, there has been a focus within Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) on what are regarded as the ‘high-risk’ industrial sectors such as mining (and quarrying), fishing and construction. This is reflected in the preparation of specific OSH Directives covering these sectors. To some extent this reflected a focus on the ‘headline’ issue of fatal accidents where these sectors tended to predominate. More recently however, there has been a growing recognition that, although such accidents are clearly important, this adopts a somewhat narrow perspective that may not provide the best reflection of OSH concerns, or the overall burden of OSH on the workforce and the wider community. For example, a UK-based study[1] estimated in 2021 that there were approximately 12,000 deaths each year in the UK due to occupational respiratory diseases resulting from exposures to chemicals, fibres (particularly asbestos) and dusts. This can be contrasted with the 123 fatal injuries at work in the UK in 2020/21[2] and the estimated 1.7 million people who reported that they were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their work[3].

This article, drawn largely from various EU sources and statistics, examines the risks of accidents and work-related diseases in different sectors and occupations across the EU from a variety of differing perspectives. This shows that, although in some instances the ‘traditional’ heavy industries predominate (e.g. in respect of fatal accidents), other sets of data provide a different perspective. For example, in respect of musculoskeletal disorders (the health problem affecting the most workers across the EU) sectors such as the wholesale retail trade, and hotels and restaurants (not conventionally regarded as high risk) feature highly in the incidence of such problems. Similarly in respect of health problems associated with psychosocial risks (after musculoskeletal health problems, the second most frequently reported work-related health problem) the two highest ranking sectors are education and financial intermediation.

Definitions

Sectors

Economic sectors in the EU are classified based on the NACE regulation (1893/2006/EC) for economic activities. NACE is derived from the French Nomenclature statistique des activités économiques dans la Communauté européenne[4]. NACE consists of a hierarchical structure:

  • first level headings identified by an alphabetical code (sections), e.g. C Manufacturing;
  • second level headings identified by a two-digit numerical code (divisions), e.g. 10 Manufacture of food products;
  • third level headings identified by a three-digit numerical code (groups) e.g. 10.5 Manufacture of dairy products;
  • fourth level headings identified by a four-digit numerical code (classes) e.g. 10.52 Manufacture of ice cream[5].

The classification system has undergone remarkable changes since it was introduced in 1961, as can be seen when comparing NACE revision 1 of 1990 with revision 2 of 2008 (see table 1). The changes reflect different production forms (not considered in revision 1) and emerging new industries. Especially the increasing relevance of the service sector and the information sector is shown at the highest section level.

Table 1: Comparison of NACE revisions 1 and 2

Statistical Classification of Economic Activities NACE Rev. 1 (1990) Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community, Rev. 2 (2008)
A Agriculture, hunting and forestry

B Fishing

A Agriculture, forestry and fishing
C Mining and quarrying B Mining and quarrying
D Manufacturing C Manufacturing
E Electricity, gas and water supply D Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply

E Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities

F Construction F Construction
G Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and personal and household goods G Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
H Hotels and restaurants I Accommodation and food service activities
I Transport, storage and communication H Transportation and storage
J Information and communication

J Financial intermediation

K Financial and insurance activities
K Real estate, renting and business activities L Real estate activities
M Professional, scientific and technical activities
L Public administration and defence; compulsory social security N Administrative and support service activities

O Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

M Education P Education
N Health and social work Q Human health and social work activities
R Arts, entertainment and recreation
O Other community, social and personal service activities S Other service activities
P Private households with employed persons T Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use
Q Extra-territorial organisations and bodies U Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies

Source: adapted from[6]

The relevance of a sector is usually indicated by employment figures and turnover (gross value added - GVA). When comparing data, some significant trends become visible:

Table 2: Relevance of sectors and trends

2000 EU-27

Ranking according to total employment

2005 EU-27

Ranking according to GVA

2010 EU-27

Ranking according to total employment

2009 EU-27

Ranking according to GVA

2021 EU-27

Ranking according to total employment

2021 EU-27

Ranking according to GVA

1. Manufacturing 1. Real-estate, renting and business-activities 1. Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 1. Manufacturing 1. Public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities 1. Industry (except construction)
2. Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 2. Manufacturing 2. Manufacturing 2. Distribution trades 2. Wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities 2. Public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities
3. Human health and social work activities 3. Wholesale and retail, repair-of-vehicles-and-personal-goods 3. Human health and social work activities 3. Professional, scientific & technical activities 3. Industry (except construction) 3. Wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities
4. Construction 4. Transport, storage and communication 4. Construction 4. Construction 4. Professional, scientific and technical activities; administrative and support service activities 4. Professional, scientific and technical activities; administrative and support service activities
5. Agriculture, forestry and fishing 5. Health and social work 5. Education 5. Information & communication 5. Construction 5. Real estate activities
6. Public administration-and-defence, compulsory-social-security 6. Public administration-and-defence, compulsory-social-security 6. Public administration-and-defence, compulsory-social-security 6. Transport & storage 6. Arts, entertainment and recreation; other service activities; activities of household and extra-territorial organizations and bodies 6. Construction
7. Education 7. Construction 7. Administrative and support service activities 7. Administration-and-support services 7. Agriculture, forestry and fishing 7. Information and communication
8. Transportation and storage 8. Financial intermediation 8. Professional, scientific and technical activities 8. Real-estate activities 8. Information and communication 8. Financial and insurance activities
9. Professional, scientific and technical activities 9. Education 9. Agriculture, forestry and fishing 9. Electricity, gas, steam and air cond. supply 9. Financial and insurance activities 9. Arts, entertainment and recreation; other service activities; activities of household and extra-territorial organizations and bodies
10. Administrative and support service activities 10. Other community, social-and-personal service activities 10. Transportation and storage 10. Accommodation and food services 10. Real estate activities 10. Agriculture, forestry and fishing
11. Accommodation and food service activities 11. Hotels and restaurants 11. Accommodation and food service activities 11. Water supply, waste and remediation
12. Financial and insurance activities 12. Electricity, gas and water supply 12. Information and communication 12. Mining and quarrying
13. Information and communication 13. Agriculture, hunting and forestry 13. Financial and insurance activities 13. Repair: computer, personal & household goods
14. Other service activities 14. Mining and quarrying 14. Other service activities
15. Activities of households 15. Activities of households 15. Activities of households
16. Arts, entertainment and recreation 16. Fishing 16. Arts, entertainment and recreation
17. Real estate activities 17. Real estate activities
18. Electricity, gas, steam and air cond. supply 18. Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
19. Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities 19. Electricity, gas, steam and air cond. suppl
20. Mining and quarrying 20. Mining and quarrying

Source: Based on [7] [8] [9] [10] [11][12]

In general, there is a gradually declining role for manufacturing and agriculture, while distribution, transport, services in general, consultation, education and health services are steadily increasing. There are, however, considerable differences across the EU.

Many of these trends can be explained by globalisation and the increasing interdependence of national economies, which has led to the rapid flow of cross-border goods, services, technology, and capital. It has largely featured developed economies integrating with less developed ones, by means of foreign direct investment, the reduction of trade barriers, and, in many cases, migration.[13] This results in a tendency to have low cost labour outsourced to less developed economies (thereby increasing transport and transfer of capital and technology), and to have immigrants from low labour-cost countries doing the dirty and physically demanding jobs in the developed economies, sometimes under questionable conditions. This increases the pressure on the labour market in the host countries, especially for the less qualified. Immigrants generally have a higher unemployment rate. This is not only due to education, but also the non-recognition of migrants’ qualifications and skills, language problems, and discrimination,[14]

Comparing the main sectors: agriculture, industry and service, Eurostat notes that the service sector is the largest sector in the EU-27. The proportion of workers in the services sectors increased from 63.0% (of the total workforce) in 1997 to 72.9% in 2020. The proportion of workers employed in the industrial and agricultural sectors decreased over the same period.[15] [10][16] In 2020, services were the largest economic activity in the EU measured in terms of gross value added (GVA) generated. Services accounted for 73% of the EU’s total GVA, followed by industry and construction (25%) and agriculture (2%)[17].

More than 99% of European businesses are small and medium sized enterprises, SMEs. They provide two thirds of jobs in the private sector, and contribute more than half of the value-added by businesses in the EU-27.[8]

Occupations

Occupations are classified internationally by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).[18] The 1988 system was adapted in 2008. Table 2 compares the two versions (first and second of the four ISCO levels).

Table 3: Comparison of International Standard Classification of Occupations, ISCO versions

ISCO-88 (COM)

Code and economic activity

ISCO-08

Code and economic activity

10 Legislators, senior officials and managers

11 Legislators and senior officials
12 Corporate managers
13 General managers

1 Managers

11 Chief executives, senior officials and legislators
12 Administrative and commercial managers
13 Production and specialized services managers
14 Hospitality, retail and other services managers

20 Professionals

21 Physical, mathematical and engineering science professionals
22 Life science and health professionals
23 Teaching professionals
24 Other professionals

2 Professionals

21 Science and engineering professionals
22 Health professionals
23 Teaching professionals
24 Business and administration professionals
25 Information and communications technology professionals
26 Legal, social and cultural professionals

30 Technicians and associate professionals

31 Physical and engineering science associate professionals
32 Life science and health associate professionals
33 Teaching associate professionals
34 Other associate professionals

3 Technicians and associate professionals

31 Science and engineering associate professionals
32 Health associate professionals
33 Business and administration associate professionals
34 Legal, social, cultural and related associate professionals
35 Information and communications technicians

40 Clerks

41 Office clerks
42 Customer service clerks

4 Clerical support workers

41 General and keyboard clerks
42 Customer services clerks
43 Numerical and material recording clerks
44 Other clerical support workers

50 Service workers and shop and market sales workers without specification

51 Personal and protective services workers
52 Models, salespersons and demonstrators

5 Service and sales workers

51 Personal service workers
52 Sales workers
53 Personal care workers
54 Protective services workers

60 Skilled agricultural and fishery workers

61 Skilled agricultural and fishery workers

6 Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers

61 Market-oriented skilled agricultural workers
62 Market-oriented skilled forestry, fishing and hunting workers
63 Subsistence farmers, fishers, hunters and gatherers

70 Craft and related trades workers

71 Extraction and building trades workers
72 Metal, machinery and related trades workers
73 Precision, handicraft, printing and related trades workers
74 Other craft and related trades workers

7 Craft and related trades workers

71 Building and related trades workers, excluding electricians
72 Metal, machinery and related trades workers
73 Handicraft and printing workers
74 Electrical and electronic trades workers
75 Food processing, wood working, garment and other craft and related trades workers

80 Plant and machine operators and assemblers

81 Stationary-plant and related operators
82 Machine operators and assemblers
83 Drivers and mobile-plant operators

8 Plant and machine operators, and assemblers

81 Stationary plant and machine operators
82 Assemblers
83 Drivers and mobile plant operators

90 Elementary occupations

91 Sales and services elementary occupations
92 Agricultural, fishery and related labourers
93 Labourers in mining, construction, manufacturing and transport

9 Elementary occupations

91 Cleaners and helpers
92 Agricultural, forestry and fishery labourers
93 Labourers in mining, construction, manufacturing and transport
94 Food preparation assistants
95 Street and related sales and service workers
96 Refuse workers and other elementary workers

00 Armed forces

01 Armed forces

0 Armed forces occupations

01 Commissioned armed forces officers
02 Non-commissioned armed forces officers
03 Armed forces occupations, other ranks

Source: Compiled by the author, based on [9] [18]

There is a similarity between the occupational trends and those described in the sector analysis. Over the recent decades, the proportion of craft and related trades workers, skilled agricultural and fishery workers, and clerks decreases, whereas there were increases in: elementary occupations, legislators, senior officials and managers, professionals, service workers and shop/market sales, technicians, and associate professionals. The occupations that remained stable were the armed forces, plant and machine operators, and assemblers. [15]

Common trends identified include [19] [15] :

  • An increasing number of Migrant workers
  • An ageing population
  • A growth in the healthcare sector, service communications, and transport sectors
  • More women at work
  • A workforce that has become more mobile
  • Frequent periods of unemployment amongst the less qualified
  • The shift to developing countries as ‘extended workbench’ - suitable for inexpensive labour (textiles) and ‘dirty work’ (electroplating, foundry, waste handling)
  • An increase in temporary work, contract work, part time work, self-employment, and fragmentation
  • An increase in work intensity
  • Repeated organisational restructuring.

Sectors and occupations in relation to accidents and work-related diseases

Fatal accidents

According to Eurostat 3,408 workers in the EU-27 died in 2019 as a result of fatal accidents in the workplace[20]. A fatal accident is defined as an accident that leads to the death of the victim within one year.[15] Figure 1 shows the five sectors with the highest accident risk in the EU, namely agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade and transport and storage. Between 2010 and 2019, the number of fatal accidents at work in these five sectors decreased. The biggest absolute decrease in fatal accidents at work took place in the construction sector, where there were 244 fewer fatal accidents in 2019 than in 2010 (decrease of 24.4%). Although the decline in absolute numbers, the construction sector remains a high-risk sector. The sector has the highest incidence rate (except for mining and quarrying. The incidence rate expresses the number of accidents in relation to the number of persons employed (100 000); this gives an indication of the likelihood that a worker had an accident. Table 3 shows the incidence rates according to sector. The risk of a fatal accident in the construction industry is 3.7 times higher than average.

Figure 1 – Fatal accidents at work (number) for the five sectors with the highest risk levels, EU, 2010-2019

Sectors1.jpg

Table 3 – Fatal accidents in the EU-27 according to sector, 2011 – 2019 (incidence rate)

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
European Union - 27 countries (from 2020) 2,3 2,1 1,9 2,0 2,0 1,8 1,8 1,8 1,7
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 5,5 5,5 4,8 5,6 5,4 5,7 5,8 6,0 4,4
Mining and quarrying 14,4 12,3 11,4 12,2 11,1 12,3 7,3 9,5 8,2
Manufacturing 2,2 2,1 1,9 1,9 2,1 1,8 1,5 1,6 1,6
Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply 3,0 3,6 1,6 2,6 2,8 2,0 2,7 3,4 2,6
Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities 7,5 4,9 5,3 5,2 5,2 5,3 5,3 5,5 4,0
Construction 7,7 7,2 6,6 6,9 7,1 6,3 6,3 6,3 6,5
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 1,3 1,3 1,2 1,2 1,2 1,1 1,1 1,0 1,0
Transportation and storage 6,8 6,1 5,3 6,2 6,1 5,9 5,7 5,5 4,8
Accommodation and food service activities 0,6 0,5 0,7 0,9 0,8 0,7 0,9 0,6 0,8
Information and communication 0,6 0,8 0,6 0,5 0,8 0,6 0,5 0,4 0,4
Financial and insurance activities 0,4 0,3 0,5 0,5 0,4 0,3 0,3 0,4 0,3
Real estate activities 0,8 1,6 1,2 1,1 0,9 0,5 1,0 1,1 1,0
Professional, scientific and technical activities 0,6 0,9 0,7 0,6 0,7 0,5 0,5 0,4 0,6
Administrative and support service activities 2,1 2,2 2,3 2,0 2,1 1,7 1,9 2,0 2,0
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security 0,7 0,7 0,9 0,7 0,9 1,0 0,6 0,6 0,6
Education 0,3 0,2 0,3 0,3 0,2 0,2 0,2 0,2 0,3
Human health and social work activities 0,3 0,4 0,3 0,3 0,3 0,3 0,3 0,4 0,3
Arts, entertainment and recreation 1,38 1,03 1,34 1,13 0,85 1,03 1,42 0,73 1,3
Other service activities 0,65 0,49 0,68 0,59 0,65 0,23 0,71 0,71 0,66
Activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use 0,23 0,09 0,19 0,28 0,05 0,11 0,06 0,17 0,23
Activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies 2,35 0,77 0 3,29 0 0 0 1,37 0,08

Source: table compiled based on data from the Eurostat database - Fatal Accidents at work by NACE Rev. 2 activity (HSW_N2_02) [21]

Non-fatal accidents

An accident at work is defined as “a discrete occurrence in the course of work which leads to physical or mental harm”.[22] This includes cases of acute poisoning and wilful acts by other persons, as well as accidents occurring during work but off the company’s premises, even those caused by third parties. It excludes deliberate self-inflicted injuries, accidents on the way to and from work (commuting accidents), accidents having only a medical origin and occupational diseases. The phrase “in the course of work” means whilst engaged in an occupational activity or during the time spent at work. This includes cases of road traffic accidents in the course of work.[15]

In 2019, there were 3.1 million non-fatal accidents that resulted in at least four calendar days of absence from work. The sectors with the most non-fatal accidents (in numbers) are manufacturing (18.7% of the EU total in 2019), wholesale and retail trade (12.3%), construction (11.8%), and human health and social work activities (11.0%). Between 2010 and 2019, the number of non-fatal accidents decreased in each of the five high-risk sectors (figure 2). The largest decrease in non-fatal accidents in the EU was recorded in manufacturing (152 000 less non-fatal accidents) and construction (-104 000), with smaller decreases in agriculture, forestry and fishing (-19 000) and transport and storage (-10 000)[20].

Figure 2 – Non-fatal accidents at work (number/x 1000) for the five sectors with the highest risk levels, EU, 2010-2019

Sectors2.jpg

Occupation

Data on accidents at work by occupation were collected within the framework of the 2007, 2013 and 2020 ad hoc modules of the EU labour force survey (EU-LFS). The data provide information on the percentage of workers who state that they had an accident at work during the last year. Table 4 shows the results for 2007, 2013 and 2020. The highest percentage of workers that reported an accident can be found among the Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers, craft and related trades workers. Between 2007 and 2020, the percentage of workers involved in an accident decreased in all occupational categories.

Table 4 - Persons reporting an accident at work by occupation, Labour Force Survey, ad hoc module (percentage of persons employed and previously employed within 12 months)

2007 2013 2020
Total - EU-27 3,2 2,9 2,3
Managers, professionals, technicians and associate professionals 1,7 2,1 1,5
Clerical support workers, service and sales workers 2,6 2,8 2,1
Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers, craft and related trades workers 5,5 5,0 4,1
Plant and machine operators and assemblers, elementary occupations 4,4 4,0 3,4

Source: table compiled based on data from the Eurostat database - EU-LFS - Persons reporting an accident at work by sex, age and occupation (HSW_AC7) [23]

Occupational diseases

The recognition of an occupational disease means the occupational origin has been approved by the national compensation authorities. This depends on the national legislation and compensation practice, which typically restricts the compensation to cases for which the occupational factor is the only or most important cause.

The highest proportion of occupational diseases was found in the following sectors[15]:

  • Manufacturing (38%)
  • Construction (13%)
  • Wholesale retail trade, repair (7%)
  • Health and social work (5%)

Occupational diseases among men were mostly associated with the ‘manufacturing’ and ‘construction’ sectors, whereas, for women, it was with ‘wholesale retail trade, repair’, and ‘health and social work’.

Work-related health problems

Data on work-related health problems and risk factors for people at work are available in the ad hoc modules of the EU labour force survey (EU-LFS) and cover people aged 15 to 64[24]. Work-related health problems include "all health problems (physical or mental health problems, illnesses, disabilities) which the respondent had suffered during the year before the end of the reference week of the survey and which the respondent considered as being caused or made worse by his/her current or past job." The survey thus brings together data on health problems and their causality as perceived by the respondents themselves. This does not necessarily mean that the health problems are associated with sick leave, medical treatment or that they are conditions recognised as occupational diseases.

The data show that in 2020, 10.3 % of people in the age group 15-64 reported having had work-related health problems during the previous 12 months, a higher rate than that recorded in 2013 (8.8 %), but substantially lower than in 2007 (14.6 %).[24] However, between 2013 and 2020 there has been an increase in self-reported health problems in all sectors (table 5). The highest increase (+38%) can be noted in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector which is also the sector with the highest percentage of persons reporting a work-related health problem. Table 6 shows data by occupation. These data are in line with the results by sector. Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers, craft and related trades workers report more work-related health problems than other occupational groups.

Table 5 - Persons reporting a work-related health problem by sector, Labour Force Survey, ad hoc module (percentage of persons employed and previously employed within 12 months)

2013 2020
Total EU-27 8,8 10,3 +17,0%
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 11,4 15,8 +38,6%
Industry (except construction) 9,2 10,6 +15,2%
Construction 11,8 12,0 +1,7%
Wholesale and retail trade; transport; accommodation and food service activities; information and communication 8,6 9,6 +11,6%
Financial and insurance activities, real estate activities, professional, scientific and technical activities, administrative and support service activities, public administration and defence; compulsory social security, education, human health and social work activities, arts, entertainment and recreation, other service activities, activities of households as employers; undifferentiated goods- and services-producing activities of households for own use, activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies 9,5 10,3 +8,4%

Source: table compiled based on data from the Eurostat database - EU-LFS- Persons reporting a work-related health problem by sex, age and NACE Rev. 2 activity (HSW_PB6B)[25]

Table 6 - Persons reporting a work-related health problem by occupation, Labour Force Survey, ad hoc module (percentage of persons employed and previously employed within 12 months)

2007 2013 2020
Total - EU-27 14,6 8,8 10,3
Managers, professionals, technicians and associate professionals 13,9 8,3 9,4
Clerical support workers, service and sales workers 13,4 8,9 9,4
Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers, craft and related trades workers 16,2 11,1 13,4
Plant and machine operators and assemblers, elementary occupations 15,2 10,6 11,8

Source: table compiled based on data from the Eurostat database - EU-LFS- Persons reporting a work-related health problem by sex, age and occupation (HSW_PB7) [26]

Exposure to risk factors

Data on exposure to risk factors shows that workers from the Agriculture and Industry as well as the Construction and Transport sector are more exposed to physical and chemical risk factors than workers form other sectors (European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), 2016). For instance, almost 1 out of 2 workers (47%) in the Agriculture and Industry sector states that they are exposed to loud noise for at least 1/4 of the time. This is more than double that of workers in the Commerce and hospitality (21%), Public administration education and health (21%) and Financial and other services sector (14%). The only exception is the exposure to materials which can be infectious. This risk factor is more prevalent in the Public administration education and health sector (Figure 3).

Figure 4 shows the exposure to risk factors for musculoskeletal health problems. For these risk factors, the differences between the sectors are less distinct. The construction and transport sector has the highest percentage of employees who indicate that they are exposed to these risk factors with percentages of more than 50% for work involving tiring or painful positions, carrying or moving heavy loads and repetitive hand or arm movements. The risk factor 'lifting or moving people' is closely related to healthcare work and is therefore more frequent in the sector Public administration education and health.

Data on psychosocial risk factors according to the sector are available in ESENER (European survey of enterprises on new and emerging risks)[27]. Figure 5 shows the results for 4 risk factors:

  • Pressure due to time constraints;
  • Poor communication or cooperation within the organisation;
  • Fear of job loss, Having to deal with difficult customers, patients, pupils etc.
  • Long or irregular working hours.

Especially the sector of Human health and social work activities reports high figures with scores above the average for all risk factors (figure 5).

Figure 3 – Exposure to physical, chemical and biological risk factors by sector (EWCS, 2016) - Are you exposed to …. for at least 1/4 of the time? (%)

Sectors5.jpg

Source: graph compiled based on data from the EWCS 2016 Data visualisation[28]

Figure 4 – Exposure to risk factors for musculoskeletal problems by sector (EWCS, 2016) - Does your work involve …. for at least 1/4 of the time? (%)

Sectors6.jpg

Source: graph compiled based on data from the EWCS 2016 Data visualisation[28]

Figure 5 - Psychosocial risk factors present in the establishment (% according to sector) – ESENER 2019

Sectors7.jpg

Source: graph compiled based on data from ESENER 2019 Data visualisation[27]

OSH Management

Managing OSH requires an approach targeted at the specific risks and circumstances in the workplace. From the ESENER data[27], it can be concluded that risk analysis is more established in sectors Agriculture, forestry and fishing, Construction, waste management, water and electricity supply and Manufacturing. It is no coincidence that these are the sectors with a higher risk of accidents (see above data on accidents). The ESENER data on the topics that are covered in OSH training are in line with the risk factors of specific sectors. For instance, organisations from the Public administration, Education and Human health and social work activities indicate more often that they provide training on psychosocial risks to their employees compared to the average of all sectors.

Table 7 – Establishments that carry out workplace risk assessments (%) – ESENER 2019

Does your establishment carry out workplace risk assessments on a regular basis? Risk assessments mainly conducted by internal staff* Workplace risk assessment in a documented form*
All 76,6 41,7 94,8
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 82,6 31,1 95,5
Construction, waste management, water and electricity supply 84,9 47 94
Manufacturing 87,6 33,5 96,5
Trade, transport, food/accommodation and recreation activities 75,6 39,5 93,4
IT, Finance, Real estate and other technical scientific or personal service activities 66,4 43,2 94,4
Public administration 72,1 35,1 98
Education 77,3 46,9 97
Human health and social work activities 79,9 55,5 96,8

*Question asked to those establishments that report conducting risk assessments

Source: table compiled based on data from ESENER 2019 Data visualisation[27]

Table 8 – OSH Training topics (%) – ESENER 2019

Proper handling and adjustment of work equipment and furniture The use of dangerous substances How to prevent psychosocial risks (stress, bullying) How to lift and move heavy loads or people Emergency procedures How to assess mobile or external workplaces on OSH risks*
All 65 80,2 34,9 75,7 79,3 42,9
Agriculture, forestry and fishing 73,3 87,2 29,3 78,3 81,9 51,5
Construction, waste management, water and electricity supply 73,3 79,8 26,2 82,1 81,2 56,2
Manufacturing 73,3 81,2 30,3 80,7 83,8 47,6
Trade, transport, food/accommodation and recreation activities 65,7 80,8 31,6 74,6 78,5 42,3
IT, Finance, Real estate and other technical scientific or personal service activities 58,5 75,6 33,4 69,4 71,5 37
Public administration 65,3 78,2 39,5 71,2 74,7 44,7
Education 49,8 73,6 52,3 57,7 86,2 29,7
Human health and social work activities 66,3 83,8 55,8 80,5 90 36,8

Source: table compiled based on data from ESENER 2019 Data visualisation [27]

Causes and circumstances of accidents and work related diseases in specific sectors

Accidents and diseases have a large number of established causes and circumstances that can be strongly related to specific sectors and occupations. For more details see the following OSH wiki articles:

As well as problems associated with specific sectors, various groups of workers can be identified as 'vulnerable', being potentially at more risk of occupationally-related ill-health or injury.


Legal aspects

As well as those relating to general health and safety or to specific hazards, the European Union has issued directives on health and safety in specific sectors, such as construction (Directive 92/57/EEC - temporary or mobile construction sites), mining (Directive 92/104/EEC - mineral-extracting industries, Directive 92/91/EEC - mineral-extracting industries - drilling), and fishing (Directive 93/103/EC - work on board fishing vessels, Directive 92/29/EEC - medical treatment on board vessels).

Sectoral social dialogue

Social dialogue, especially on sectoral level is instrumental for improving safety and health at work. The EU Commission acknowledges that social partners are particularly well placed to find solutions adapted to the circumstances of a specific activity or sector and therefore make a strong contribution to the effective implementation of EU OSH legislation[29]. The European sectoral social dialogue is based on European sectoral social dialogue committees that consult on European policies, draft joint action texts and negotiate on issues of common interest in their sector, thereby contributing directly to the development of EU labour law and policies including health and safety at work. Joint texts of the sectoral social partners include agreements that can be transformed into directives or implemented in accordance with the procedures and practices specific to the social partners and Member States. Examples of such agreements are

  • The European framework agreement on the protection of occupational health and safety in the hairdressing sector[30];
  • Framework agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare (implemented by Directive 2010/32/EU - prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector[31]
  • Agreement between the social partners concerning the implementation of the Work in Fishing Convention (implemented by Directive 2017/159/EU - Work in Fishing Convention)[32]
  • Agreement on Workers Health Protection through the Good Handling and Use of Crystalline Silica and Products containing it[33]

The joint texts of the sectoral social partners may also include guides and other instruments whereby the social partners commit themselves to respecting the principles and ensure that they are properly implemented. Examples are:

  • Non-binding guide to best practice with a view to improving the application of related directives on protecting health and safety of workers in agriculture, livestock farming, horticulture and forestry[34]
  • Occupational health and safety risks in the healthcare sector - Guide to prevention and good practice[35]
  • Action Guide for compliance with the occupational exposure limit of formaldehyde in the woodworking industries[36]

need support for managing OSH[37].

OiRA: supporting risk assessments for sectors

Occupational risks may differ in each sector. Therefore supporting companies, especially SMEs, requires a sectoral approach. Sectoral tools have the advantage of being relevant and easy understandable. The OiRA project is aimed at developing and disseminating practical risk assessment tools tailored to the needs of micro and small enterprises. The webplatform, offered by EU-OSHA, enables public authorities and sectoral social partners to build sectoral risk assessment tools in any language in an easy and standardised way. Over 300 OiRA tools have been developed so far covering a wide range of sectors. All tools are available on the OiRA project website [32].

Conclusion

The statistics on work-related accidents and health problems demonstrate the shift in the world of work from more traditional jobs such as agriculture or manufacturing to more service-oriented sectors. Risk factors between sectors tend to differ and the causes of accidents and ill-health in the different sectors are manifold. Therefore, it remains important to invest in sectoral approaches both at national and European level.


References

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Links for further reading

EU-OSHA - European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Third European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER 3). [33]

Eurostat. Accidents at work - statistics by economic activity [34]

Eurostat. Self-reported work-related health problems and risk factors - key statistics [35]

EU Commission. Sectoral Social Dialogue [36]

OSH: Sectoral social dialogue, Sectors, Occupations
NACE: Crop and animal production, Forestry and logging, Fishing and aquaculture, Mining of coal and lignite, Extraction of crude petroleum and natural gas, Mining of metal ores, Other mining and quarrying, Manufacture of food products, Manufacture of beverages, Manufacture of tobacco products, Manufacture of textiles, Manufacture of wearing apparel, Manufacture of leather and related products, Manufacture of wood and of products of wood and cork, Manufacture of paper and paper products, Printing and reproduction of recorded media, Manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products, Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products, Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations, Manufacture of rubber and plastic products, Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products, Manufacture of basic metals, Manufacture of fabricated metal products, Manufacture of computer, Manufacture of electrical equipment, Manufacture of machinery and equipment n.e.c., Manufacture of motor vehicles, Manufacture of transport equipment n.e.c., Manufacture of furniture, Other manufacturing, Repair and installation of machinery and equipment, Electricity, Water collection, Sewerage, Waste collection, OFFICE CLERKS, Civil engineering, Wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, Wholesale trade, Land transport and transport via pipelines, Water transport, Air transport, Warehousing and support activities for transportation, Postal and courier activities, Accommodation, Food and beverage service activities, Pre-primary education, Human health activities, Residential care activities, Social work activities without accommodation