Monday, 6 August 2007

Working Side by Side with Death

(Photo: The ultimate group hug!, by Mnadi) Wednesday, August 1st, Inail (the National Insurance Institute Against Work Accidents) showed the annual report on safety at work. 1,302 persons died at work during 2006 in Italy, more or less 4 workers every day. Temporary workers’ accidents increased by 19% compared with 2005. Immigrant workers from outside the European Union had twice the amount of accidents Italian workers had. Most dangerous sectors are mining, transports and building (
As an example, we can tell the story of Mr Domenico Occhinegro, a 26-year-old worker who died Tuesday, July 31st, at the
Ilva siderurgical plant in Taranto. Two steel pipes crushed him to death just before the end of his working-shift. Domenico had been working there for three years: two other workers died in his same department during the last two years. Since 1993, about 40 workers died in the same plant (
Owing to a great lot of similar cases, the
Italian Parliament at last approved a law to enhance safety at work: public contracts will fix safety costs; companies will stop their activity if more than 20% of their employees are irregular; education programmes for workers will grant a tax allowance; 300 new work inspectors will soon be hired ( and
Senato della Repubblica, Camera dei Deputati and Cnel decided to carry a new reaserch into the evolution of work: they carried out the last one in 1955 (

Whether or not the new law will achieve an effective reduction of deaths and accidents at work, the subject is usually neglected by Italian media and political debate. As a consequence, the public opinion doesn't really seem to care about it.

“Ma quando quest’uomo s’ammalerà, il medico, andando a suo comodo dopo la terza chiamata, lo troverà agonizzante; il prete, invitato per carità a spicciarsi, vorrà finire il suo desinare e lo troverà morto; il becchino, guardandogli i piedi scalzi e il camicione topposo, gli reciterà la breve orazione: ‘Accidenti a chi ti ci ha portato!’” {But when this man [the stone-braker] fall ill, the doctor, going there at leisure after the third call, will find him in agony; the priest, requested for goodness’ sake to hurry up, will finish his dinner and find him dead; the grave-digger, looking at his bare feet and patched shirt, will recite this brief oration: ‘Curse who brought you here!’”} (
Renato Fucini, Lo spaccapietre, 1844).

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