European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

Everyone’s health and safety counts!


On International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD 2017), EFFAT, ETUFs and ETUC want to deliver a strong message: Everyone’s health and safety at work matters – for workers, his or her family and loved ones, and for employers.

With over 168,000 people dying every year from work-related accidents and diseases, and over 3 million reported accidents at work (those resulting in at least four days’ absence from work), health and safety at work is a very serious issue for everyone.

One of EFFAT’s core activity is to ensure health and safety standards in its sectors:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in particular are the most frequently cited complaint by workers in the agriculture sector and food sector. For sufferers, MSDs cause pain and discomfort, and, from a financial point of view, cost social security systems a great deal in the form of sick leave and reduced productivity as well as through early retirement on health grounds
  • Domestic workers equally carry out tiring and repetitive tasks under precarious working conditions which leave them worse off than permanently contracted counterparts in larger workplace. This is partly due to less training, information, and representation by safety reps for such workers, and in smaller companies
  • In terms of occupational accidents, the horeca sector also presents significant risks. Slips, trips and falls, as well as cuts and burns represent the largest share along with musculoskeletal diseases and skin diseases predominate

Young workers and pregnant women should be protected against having to handle heavy loads – even if they are of the opinion that they can perform such tasks.

Older workers often suffer from MSDs, as their bodies are no longer so physically fit and are often affected by the degenerative consequences of past overburdening.

Today's economic upheavals, downsizings, layoffs, mergers and bankruptcies have cost hundreds of thousands of workers their jobs. Pyscho-social risks and work-related stress at the work place pose significant threat to mental health of the employees as well as organisations and national economies, and contributes to around half of lost working days.

Harald Wiedenhofer, EFFAT's Secretary General, commented on International Workers Memorial Day emphasising the role of trade unions in the prevention of all risks and for all workers: ‘At EFFAT we represent some of the most dangerous sectors when it comes to health and safety. This is why we call for branch specific prevention strategies at the EU and national level, exchange of best practices and we commit to addressing this problem at the social dialogue level’.


For information:

EFFAT project on muscoloskeletal diseases in agriculture

Managing stress and psychosocial risks.
An EFFAT working tool for EWC members and Coordinators and Trade Union officers

For fatal and non-fatal accident statistics see:,_2014_(persons)_YB16.png


EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.