Eurostat figures released on 7 January 2013 confirm Italy’s shocking success: it is the country with the highest number of work-related deaths in Europe. The statistics from 2010 show that, in Italy, 718 people suffered a work-related death in the workplace, compared with 557 in Germany and 550 in France. The comparison is even more sobering when one takes into account that Germany, with 82 million people, and France, with 65 million, have larger populations than Italy, with 61 million. In Germany, the rate of work-related death is 0.8 in 100,000 workers: in Italy, it is exactly double.
Another statistic which helps in drawing a picture of the country concerns non-fatal accidents. In 2010, in Germany there were 930,447 cases, whereas in Italy there were only 437,821. How can there be such a difference? As the national association for workers injured and disabled at work (ANMIL) explains, less serious accidents are frequently not reported in Italy. Being employed illegally or the high employer costs of having an injured worker are sufficient reasons to persuade workers not to report accidents.
The statistics for 2012 will be even worse. In November 2012, the employment minister, Elsa Fornero, announced that to date there had been 850 work-related deaths and 750,000 incidents of industrial injury. These statistics also take into account accidents when travelling to work. Despite this, the overall picture is worrying when the drop in employment levels and the increase in lay-offs are considered. In Italy, people are working less but this is not matched by a similar drop in work-related deaths. The crisis has worsened working conditions, made workers more open to blackmail and so more likely to accept danger, including risk to life.
A final statistic which helps in understanding how much the Italian world of work is suffering concerns lay-offs. In 2012, the Italian body which deals with pensions paid out 1.1 billion euros related to lay-offs. This figure, equivalent to having 520,000 workers on no hours at all, indicates that there are currently millions of workers affected by total or partial lay-offs. The regions where most workers are affected are in the North (Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto) as this is where most Italian industry is concentrated.