March 25, 2023

Shortly after the data on occupational accidents for 2022, a year in which 826 workers did not return home after their workday, the employers (CEOE and CEPYME), the unions (CCOO and UGT), the Ministry of Labor and Economy Social and the autonomous communities staged the signing of the Spanish Strategy for Safety and Health at Work 2023-2027. This roadmap includes a series of pending tasks in labor matters that led to the announcement by Minister Yolanda Diaz of the convening of the table to update the legislation on occupational hazards. This negotiation, with a start date to be determined, will focus on psychosocial risks and their incidence on mental health, to which women are generally more exposed.

Preliminary data for the year 2022 show a higher incidence of occupational accidents among men, however, the UGT Secretary of Occupational Health and Environment, Ana García, believes that this is due to underreporting of accidents that arise especially for women. , as he points out in conversation with La Información. Men also had a higher occupational accident rate, since they are more involved in activities traditionally considered dangerous, such as work at heights or handling heavy machines. Although the main cause of death at work or on the way to it was heart attack or stroke, which can be a consequence of exposure to psychosocial risks.

The list of occupational diseases is included in Law 1299/2006 of November 10 and for UGT it has become totally outdated. 2010 others are not recognized as occupational diseases, making it difficult for them to be declared as such in a court of law. Often, they are treated as work accidents that result in a leave due to common illness, which has a different economic benefit from those of work origin.

Although the psychosocial risks exceed those directly related to mental health, exposure to noise or biological agents is also included in this category, as was the case with Covid and the health sector, where women concentrated 80% of the visits. accidents at work because they are not considered an occupational disease. In accordance with Law 31/1995 on Occupational Risk Prevention -which the Ministry is now seeking to update- it is mandatory to assess psychosocial risks and adopt measures within companies to reduce or eliminate them, with the participation of workers. However, these are the only risks that do not have a specific regulation in Spain.

On the other hand, a special weight of women is observed in commuting accidents, that is, between the workplace and their habitual residence. In 2021, women suffered 54% of accidents of this type with more than 41,000 cases, despite the fact that mortality was once again higher among men. From the General Union of Workers they interpret that these data are the result of the “double presence” of women, who in many cases carry out a job outside the home and another unpaid one inside. Although they also highlight that women held 73.4% of part-time jobs, which implies that in some cases they will have more than one and the rush to travel leads them to have more accidents. Precisely, the majority of commuting accidents were traffic accidents.

Include the gender perspective in risk prevention

For this reason, the UGT demands that in the modification of the lists and protocols, which as planned will be addressed at the dialogue table convened by the Ministry of Labor once the Scholarship Statute has been closed, include the gender perspective in the regulation. “Gender differences are not taken into account in terms of exposure to risks, their prevention and the different consequences they have for health, this has repercussions on poor management of occupational risk prevention,” they point out in the report. report ‘Analysis of the gender perspective in occupational health’, published in March.

The majority of accidents with women taking time off work responded to “contact with dangerous substances through the nose, mouth and inhalation” in 2021, due to the impact of Covid on the health sector. While they also registered a greater number of accidents caused by psychological trauma, a total of 269, as a consequence of occupying more positions that involve direct contact with clients, student patients or users and, therefore, being more exposed. Thus, while men who have these jobs report high levels of physical violence, female workers report “high rates of unsolicited sexual attention, humiliating behavior, sexual harassment and bullying,” according to the union.

This exposure is greater for those workers in the health, public administration and defense sectors, something that has “immediate effects” on them, according to the UGT report. Violence and harassment lead workers to lack motivation, lose confidence, see their self-esteem reduced, feel anger or irritability, suffer from depression or anxiety, and even develop musculoskeletal disorders. An amalgamation of problems that lead to physical illnesses, reproductive, mental, and cardiovascular disorders, and that increase the risk of suffering accidents at work. That is why Ana García highlights the need to address prevention taking into account the reality of women, beyond attending to the specific situations associated with maternity and lactation, which have been collected.

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