The risk of suffering an occupational accident in Germany fell once again last year, despite employment having continued to rise. 1.5% more hours were worked than in the previous year. At the same time, the number of reportable occupational accidents per million hours worked fell by almost 2%, to 14. The actual figure was 866,056, corresponding to approximately 21.9 reportable occupational accidents per 1,000 equivalent full workers, or 1.3% fewer than in the previous year. These figures are taken from the financial results of the German statutory accident insurance institutions, which were presented today in Berlin by their umbrella association, the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV).
470 people died as a result of occupational accidents, 13 fewer than in the previous year. By contrast, the number of reportable commuting accidents rose in 2015 by 2.84% to 179,181. Of these, 348 were fatal, 26 more than in the previous year.
"Despite rising employment, the number of occupational accidents has fallen to a new record low. For the sake of comparison: twenty years ago, the number of accidents per hour worked was still approximately twice what it is now. This constant drop is notable," says Dr Joachim Breuer, Director General of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). "Working conditions in Germany are continually becoming safer. A further sign of this is the falling trend not only in the number of reportable accidents, but also in the number of severe accidents."
Squamous cell carcinoma or multiple actinic keratosis of the skin caused by natural ultraviolet irradiation were added to the list of formally recognized occupational diseases only on 1 January 2015. Since then, the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions have received 5,531 reports of suspected cases. "Widespread diseases such as these nonmelanoma skin cancers constitute a particular challenge for us," says Breuer. "When is skin cancer caused by outdoor work, and how can this be determined? The GENESIS campaign, in which UV radiation exposure during outdoor work is measured, is intended to assist us in finding answers to these questions. However, the general rule for all persons working outdoors is that they should protect themselves against UV radiation. Technical and organizational measures, such as awnings and sun canopies or rescheduling of the work, have priority. Should these measures not be possible, personal protective measures should be taken such as the wearing of long-sleeved clothing and sun hats. Finally, sun cream is the last link in the chain of protective measures."
Altogether, the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions received 76,991 reports of suspected cases of occupational disease. The suspicion was confirmed in 37,149 cases. New pensions were awarded in 5,049 cases. 2,409 people died as a result of an occupational disease.
Contribution target and contribution rate
The contribution target of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for trade and industry rose in 2015 by 1.5% to €10.840 billion, that of the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for the public sector by 3.9% to €1.493 billion. Despite this, the average contribution rate to the German Social Accident Insurance Institutions for trade and industry fell by a further two percent, having already reached an all-time low in 2014. In 2015, enterprises in trade and industry had to pay only 1.19% of assessable earnings for insurance against occupational accidents and diseases. The reasons for this continue to be the high employment levels and the sustained fall in accident numbers.
Accidents involving students and schoolchildren
The German Social Accident Insurance for students also exhibited a welcome drop in the number of accidents compared to 2014. The number of accidents in schools and educational establishments fell by 3.03% to 1,244,577. The number of commuting accidents suffered by schoolchildren and students was almost constant, rising by 0.2% to 110,200. A total of 61 schoolchildren and students died at their educational establishment or on the journey to or from it. This equates to 19 more than in the previous year.