Deaths at work will continue to blight Europe for almost a decade longer than previously forecast after a rise in fatal accidents in almost half of member states, new trade union research reveals.

Fatal accidents at work are now projected to continue until 2062 based on the current rate – seven years longer than was previously expected.

This delay comes after a rise in yearly deaths at work in 12 countries between 2019 and 2020, most notably in Italy (+285), Spain (+45) and Portugal (+27).

The ETUC is calling on the EU and national governments to stop workplace deaths by backing its Zero Death at Work manifesto, which now has over 150 leading supporters including national ministers, MEPs, experts and trade union leaders.

Member State           Fatal accidents 2020           Change vs 2019
Italy                            776                                        +285
Spain                         392                                         +45
Portugal                     131                                        +27
Czechia                     108                                         +13
Cyprus                       16                                           +6
Poland                       190                                         +6
Malta                          7                                             +4
Bulgaria                     88                                           +3
Belgium                     54                                           +2
Croatia                      45                                            +2
Slovenia                    17                                           +2
Lithuania                   38                                           +1

Based on the new forecast, workplace deaths are set to continue until well into the next century in Italy as well as Hungary. On current trends, workplace deaths will never be eliminated in Spain or France.

Another 25,166 workplace deaths should be expected across Europe between 2021 and 2029 if fatal accidents continue at the same pace as during the previous decade.

Projections for selected member states and EU27

                               Year in which fatal                  Deaths expected               Change compared 
                               accidents will end                   between 2021 - 2029        to previous forecast (in years)
EU27                     2062                                               25,166                                      +7
Germany              2043                                                  2,679                                      -7
Italy                       2124                                                 4,664                                      +82
France                  never                                                 6,325                                      NA
Portugal                2032                                                    560                                      +2
Austria                  2035                                                    545                                       -2
Poland                  2028                                                     504                                     +1
Czechia                 2057                                                    794                                      +5
Spain                     never                                                3,233                                      NA
Romania                2035                                                 1,136                                      -1

Hungary                2173                                                     655                                     NA                     

Note: The table shows the findings of the forecast analysis for a selection of Member States, with the newly estimated zero death horizon and the number of deaths expected between 2021 and 2029. For instance, fatal accidents are now projected to end in 2124 in Italy - 82 years later than the previous forecast conducted last year. Forecast analyses have been conducted separately for each selected Member State, and for EU27 as a whole.

The figures are part of a forthcoming analysis of Eurostat data conducted by Pierre Bérastégui of the European Trade Union Institute and they are published as the ETUC today announces substantially increased support for its ‘Zero Death at Work’ campaign.

The Labour Ministers of Slovakia and Slovenia have now signed ETUC’s manifesto, taking the number of ministers supporting action needed to end deaths at work into double figures.

Vice Presidents of the European Parliament, the Presidents of the S&D, and Co-Presidents of the Green and Left groups in the European Parliament, as well as MEPs from the EPP and Renew groups, have also signed the manifesto.

The manifesto calls:

  • on the European Union, its member state governments, and employers to genuinely commit, and take the actions needed, to achieve zero death at work;
  • for an increase in workplace health and safety training, protection, reporting, inspections and penalties;
  • for new legislative and other initiatives in the next mandate of the European Commission and Parliament from 2024, to deliver Zero Death.

The ETUC plans to hand over a final manifesto with even more political support to EU institutions on Workers Memorial Day 2023.

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Claes-Mikael Stahl said:

“People go to work to earn a living but too many people in Europe are instead losing their lives to work. People’s parents, partners and children who go out to work and never come home because corners have been cut to save money or the law still allows unsafe working practices.

“Many lives have been saved through stronger safety legislation over the last few decades but our figures show that progress is coming to a halt in some countries and being completely reversed in others.

“The fact fatal workplace accidents are on the rise again across Europe shows should keep employers and politicians awake at night and shows we need to renew our commitment to keeping people safe at work.

“No one escapes death. But death at work is different. It is a fatal loss that could have been avoided. Ending these avoidable tragedies is absolutely possible with the right political will and we applaud the ministers and MEPs who have committed today to taking the steps necessary for zero death at work.”


Fatal accidents at work do not include the thousands of deaths caused every year by occupational diseases, and do not include non-fatal accidents.

ETUC manifesto for Zero Death At Work with full list of signatories: here