Deaths in the workplace were the subject of an episode of the Italian TV programme Report, which aired on channel Rai 3 on 9 May. While the European average is 2.2 deaths per 100,000 employees, Italy stands at 2.7, which is much higher than in the UK (1.6) and Germany (1). Companies are not investing in safety, workers are not being properly trained, and not enough checks are carried out. In particular, this episode focused on industrial machinery, which, provided the rules are followed, should not pose any risk. However, as reported by Report, the problem is that self-certification is all that is needed to ensure that machines are compliant. To make matters worse, while in 2008 there were 5,000 people employed by the local health authorities to check these self-certifications once the machines had been put into production, there are now just over 2,000. If irregularities are found, they must be reported to an inter-ministerial committee, but the fact is that this committee has not convened for two years.
Fabio Farneti, CEO of Spai, explains: ‘There is a lack of awareness in this regard, in fact repressive checks are still preferred over preventive ones. Inspections are only carried out after a report has been made and, in most cases, when the problem has already arisen, or even after a tragedy has already occurred. Even the task of writing an instruction manual, which is supposed to set out the fundamentals of machine safety, is considered a burden by those who build and sell it. Technical writers are rarely given enough credit for what they do, and this factor also contributes to poor occupational safety.’