In Italy more than one person a day dies on the job. And happy May Day

The last baleful day was April 29th. In Amazon’s new sorting yard in Alexandria a beam gave way, the spans came down. And six people who were working on it fell to the ground. A six-meter flight that left no escape for Flamur, a 50-year-old worker, and injured another five, one of which in critical condition.

In the same hours there were two other victims: Natalino, a 49-year-old crane operator, died in the port of Taranto where he was working in loading operations on a ship of wind turbines. The causes are not yet known with certainty, but he fell on the dock and died instantly. And then again, the 23-year-old Mattia, a construction worker in Montebelluna in the province of Treviso, was overwhelmed by a heavy scaffolding that left him no way out.

But the list is long, made up of perhaps different stories, but united by the same sad ending. Many are workers overwhelmed by the machines they were using, such as 58-year-old Antonio who was working on a road construction site in Potenza when he was crushed by the excavator he was maneuvering, or farmers killed by their own vehicles that overturn, as in the case of Vittorio. of 63 years in the province of Ragusa, or from falls from a height like that of Giovanni, a 51-year-old worker committed to carrying out work on the roof of the Secondigliano prison in Naples and fallen from a height of five meters, or that of Giorgia , a young 27-year-old mother who fell off the ladder she was cleaning from and died after hitting her head.

From 1 January to 1 May in Italy more than one person died at work a day. An often silent massacre that in 2021, until today, for Anmil, the National Association of Mutilated and Disabled Workers, has seen 120 people disappear while doing their work or on the way to go there. The association collects the tragic episodes that every day involve workers from north to south of the Peninsula, to try to restore dignity of memory to the victims of this plague.

But the situation, if possible, is even worse, given what emerges from the words of Franco Bettoni, president of the National Institute for Accident Insurance (Inail), which received 185 reports of accidents at work in the first three months of 2021 with a fatal outcome, which specifies “there are 19 more than those recorded in the first quarter of 2020. But they are still provisional data and to quantify the phenomenon it is necessary to wait for the consolidation of the data for the whole of 2021”. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Inail has also counted the reports of cases of those who died after contracting the virus at work, which from March 2020 to March 2021 were 551, of which 82.8% men.

If Inail data are inevitably influenced by the count of virus infections, those provided to us by Alessandro Genovesi, general secretary of Fillea Cgil, the reference trade union for the construction sector, are indicative to note the growing trend: “In the period between January and February of 2020 and the same time frame of 2021 there was an increase in deaths at work by 170%. A growing trend, which goes beyond the pandemic given that the reference period is the first months of last year, with Italy still “open” ». The overwhelming majority is made up of males, 43% are between 40 and 60 years old and the percentage for those over 60 is the same. A very high average, dictated by the fact that in the last decade there has not been a real generational change among workers in the sector, also due to the economic crisis.

The world of construction “is the most affected by this phenomenon, together with that of agriculture. The main causes of death are falls from heights, crushing or collapsing walls, overturning of vehicles and electrocution », says Genovesi.

The main problem is undeclared work, very present in Italy, mainly in small and medium-sized enterprises which, in order to save and cut costs, do not even guarantee the minimum conditions of physical safety for people.

Data, numbers, statistics that too often turn out to be cold and empty but behind which there are so many stories, hopes and desires of men and women whose lives were broken early. Marco Bazzoni, a metalworker and Workers’ Safety Representative in the province of Florence, personally committed himself to gathering the news of these deaths that “many, too many continue to call” white “, an insult to family members and victims. They call them that to allude to the absence of a hand directly responsible for what happened, instead the hand is always there, sometimes more than one ». Bazzoni in 2011 and 2014 had the European Commission open two infringement procedures against Italy, precisely because of the non-compliance with regard to safety in the workplace, and for years he has been fighting for “the issue to be treated as it is: a bulletin of war, a real emergency of which it is important to speak ».

And in the next period the situation could get worse. According to Genovesi, with the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, for example, “there could be a 5-6-7% growth in the construction sector, but if some reforms are not implemented there will be an equal increase in the number of deaths and accidents”. The Fillea CGIL has been proposing loudly, and for some time, to focus on the “Durc of congruity”, which has already been used successfully in the past on particular reconstruction occasions, and which allows to link the total cost of a work to the incidence of the cost of the manpower that works there, in order to give more guarantees, first of all to the workers. The other union motion is the system of a “points license”, along the lines of the automobile one, which over the years punishes and rewards companies that are not guilty or guilty of accidents for their employees. Again for Genovesi, the aggravating circumstance of homicide at work should then be instituted, as done for the road one: “For me, investing under the influence of alcohol or drugs is as unbecoming and serious as knowing that a worker is black, not the he was given a helmet and was sent to work on the roof on the fifth floor of a building ».

In recent months, Inail has allocated approximately 14 million euros to finance training interventions aimed at Workers’ Safety Representatives, the Heads of Prevention and Protection Services and workers. Because what is lacking is adequate prevention, often sacrificed on the altar of faster and easier gains. For Bettoni “it must be strengthened through more intense information, training, research and support measures for businesses” and awareness of risks must be encouraged, so that they are not underestimated.

A common effort, which requires “the will and collaboration of all the subjects who, each for their own role, have the responsibility of protecting the health of workers”. And until this commitment is a priority for everyone, the massacre will continue undisturbed.

Source: L'Espresso – News, inchieste e approfondimenti Espresso by

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