Thousands of Russian employees suffer from industrial injuries

Saving money on personal protective equipment usually leads to higher expenditure connected with paying employees' sick-lists and allowances

According to statistics from the International Labor Organization, over two million people in the world die at work every year, 160 million develop professional diseases, and the number of industrial accidents reaches 270 million worldwide.

The situation in Russia is a lot harder. According to official information, about 150,000 Russian employees suffer from injuries, 20,000 become disabled, about 12,000 people suffer from professional diseases. The statistics proves that the protection of labor has become a goal of global scale.

The information released by the research institute of labor medicine of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that over 100 thousand chemical substances used in the home industry, as well as 200 biological and about 50 physical factors exert a very negative influence on employees' health. Extreme temperatures, high or low pressure, noise, vibration, unclean dusty air, poisonous effect of chemical substances are just a few of those factors, which make industrial processes impossible without the use of protective means.

According to the information from the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development, Russian enterprises spent about two billion rubles in 2003 on various arrangements to protect people's labor. Russian companies spend the average of $5-9 monthly on such purposes on every employee. This index is a lot larger in Europe – 40-50 euros.

Twenty percent of all accidents happen on account of the fact that protective means are misused or even disused. The present-day market of special uniform and individual protective means is evaluated at more than $600 million; its annual growth makes up 15 percent.

The use of bootleg production, which stands out for its low prices, although it does not meet safety requirements, poses a great danger for employees. The situation is rather sad in the regions, where the bootleg production prevails on the market – a higher level of industrial injuries is typical for such regions as opposed to Moscow and the Moscow region.

Saving money on personal protective equipment usually leads to higher expenditure connected with paying employees' sick-lists and allowances, etc. In addition, the use of protective means directly affects the image of a company. The issue has already become an element of corporate culture in the USA and Europe. The production of protective equipment is a quite profitable economic branch in developed countries. The world market of this production is evaluated at eleven billion euros; the market gains four-five percent annually.

The internal corporate structure attracts little attention in Russia, especially when it comes to small, medium business and state enterprises, where the attitude to labor protection can be described as criminal. As a rule, an employee is offered to sign against the line that says “industrial safety rules have been reviewed.” Needless to say that the majority of people do not even care to read those rules through.

The situation is gradually improving, though. Associations of designers and manufacturers of personal protective equipment organize exhibitions of their products both in Moscow and in Russian regions. Over 200 companies from Russia, CIS, Baltic states, Germany, France and the USA took part in the international exhibition called “Protection Labor and Safety,” which took place in Moscow.

The competitive ability of Russian companies is a rather important issue nowadays, taking into consideration Russia's plans to join the WTO. The consumption/production index is rather low for the national economy. In other words, the spending on making a standard unit of production is a lot higher in Russia in comparison with foreign countries. The low level of corporate culture is named one of the reasons, as it leads to low quality products, industrial injuries and low productive efficiency.

Artyom Sergeyev

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Author`s name Olga Savka