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Nº105 SEPTIEMBRE/DICIEMBRE 2009 Imprimir Histórico de publicaciones


Analysis of accident mortality; in Spain and worldwide (2)

Risk Management Expert


Analysis of accident mortalityThe various government bodies running citizen services keep their own records on the circumstances of citizen death in the activities coming under their remit. Examples might be the ministries of health, consumer affairs, education, interior, employment, public works, transport, defence and justice, plus the government authorities at regional and local level.

The figures culled by these bodies often tap into other sources than those used to draw up population death statistics.The latter focus on the medical causes of death whereas the former tend to classify their findings in terms of a given human activity: in the home, on means of transport (by road, air or sea), at work, in the perpetration of crime (manslaughter,murder, terrorism), in leisure activities (amateur sport, outdoor swimming and bathing, hiking ) among others.

By way of example, the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Immigration’s figures on deaths from accidents at work are based on the various external causes of WHO’s classification system, broken down by falls, mechanical forces, fires, electrocution, etc. without these being unequivocally assigned to the carrying out of a given work activity.

An account is given below of the statistics from the main government authorities in Spain and other countries, using the same historical series as those used in the previous section.


Analysis of accident mortalityThere has been a notable fall in road-traffic deaths (open road and built-up area) in Spain and other EU countries in recent years.The mortality figures of about 170 deaths per million inhabitants recorded in the early nineties of last century fell to the figure of 67.2 recorded in 2008, as shown in graph 10 for Spain.

In 2008 there were 3100 road deaths in Spain, 2466 corresponding to accidents on the open road and the rest to accidents in built-up areas. 79.4% of these victims were male.

Graph 10. Deaths and mortality by road traffic accidents. Spain 1980-2008
Graph 10

Sources: Dirección General de Tráfico
Road traffics accidents and urban areas
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants

Graph 11 shows the figures corresponding to the clutch of comparative countries.The lower rates recorded by European countries, as compared with American countries included the United States, show that the EU’s ongoing accident-reduction measures are bearing fruit, albeit still with some way to go.

Graph 11. Deaths and mortality by road traffic accidents. International 2007
Graph 11

Sources: Nationwide and international organizations for health and road traffics
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants

Graph 12. Deaths and mortality by home and leisure-based accidents. Spain 1980-2007
Graph 12

Source: Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants


Analysis of accident mortalityThis is the most widespread and diverse category among the various official bodies of the public authorities; comparatively Iittle heed is therefore paid to accidents occurring in the home and on leisure activities (walking, playing sports, hiking, cultural activities, outdoor bathing in natural waterways, etc…) in terms of the various causes as recorded in the previous section of external accident causes.

The figures furnished by the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs, partly shown in graph 12, are therefore estimates drawn from population surveys. The same goes for the international comparative figures for 2005 included in graph 13.

Graph 13. Deaths and mortality by home and leisure-based accidents. International 2005
Graph 13

Source: Nationwide and international organizations for health
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants

A simple glance at the estimated figures shows their importance as the main cause of death for citizens of all

  • falls
  • drowning and obstruction of the respiratory tract
  • poisoning
  • fire
  • electrocution and
  • natural phenomena

These accidents, of evident importance in comparison to road accidents, occupational accidents and antisocial acts, are rarely catered for in accident prevention plans.There is therefore an urgent need for home- and leisure-based accidents to be taken properly into account in prevention plans, in keeping with the real scope of the problem.


Analysis of accident mortalityThe International Labour Organisation estimated that the worldwide deaths of workers registered in the social security systems of their respective countries added up to 380,000 in 2006.The number of deaths of those working in unregistered jobs is obviously unknown; they might even outnumber the deaths of registered workers.

The official figures of many countries are likely to be an understatement themselves, due to the different social security systems covering employed workers.The gap becomes even more glaring when self-employed workers are also brought into the picture.

The aim of this study is to give an overview of across-the-board accident mortality in all spheres, so graph 14 shows and analyses the official statistics on work accidents in Spain while graph 15 does likewise for the whole set of countries.The various methodologies used are not considered other than for clarifying the most important figures.

Graph 14.: Deaths and mortality by accidents at work. Spain 1980-2008
Graph 14

Source: Ministerio de Trabajo e Inmigración
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants

Spain shows a falling trend in all types of occupational accidents, whether these occur in the workplaces themselves, during travel on company business or on regular commuting journeys classified as «in itinere». From the heights of 195.3, 141.8 and 53.4 per million workers, respectively, in 1980, these figures had fallen to 68.5, 52.3 and 16.2 by 2008.The gender breakdown shows a huge difference, 95.9% of the deaths in 2008 being males.

Analysis of accident mortalityIn 2008 there were 1089 recorded deaths from occupational accidents in the workplaces themselves and 831 during travel on company business: the rest occurred during commuting travel «in itinere» to and from the workplace.

At worldwide level the average mortality figure in 2006 for accidents at work, excluding commuting accidents,was 175.1.The figure was much lower in advanced countries, at around 40, and the developing countries included in the study.The high average rate worldwide is the result of the very high work-related mortality figures in the destination countries of industrial delocalisation, such as China, India, Indonesia and others, with very lenient occupational-safety controls and regulations.

Graph 15. Deaths and mortality by accidents at work (in itinere not included)
Graph 15

Source: Organización Internacional del Trabajo and international organizations
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants


Analysis of accident mortalityThe official death figures from voluntary and involuntary manslaughter and murder recorded in Spain by the Spanish Interior Ministry are shown in graph 16, with the international comparison given in graph 17.

In 2006 there were 323 deaths from voluntary manslaughter in Spain, 92 from involuntary manslaughter and 57 murders. 65.2% of the victims were male.

Graph 16. Deaths and mortality by manslaughter and murder. Spain 1980-2008
Graph 16

Source: Ministerio del Interior, Cuerpo Nacional de Policía y Guardia Civil
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants

Graph 17. Deaths and mortality by manslaughter and murder. International 2006
Graph 17

Source: World Health Organization and rnational organizations
Mortality Rate: Death Toll per Million Inhabitants

The historical manslaughter and murder trend held steady during the eighties and nineties of the past century and the first three years of this century, at about 10 victims per million inhabitants. In 2004 and 2005 the figure rose to 13.2%, falling back to 7.6% in 2007.

The average rate worldwide was 94 in 2006, with much higher rates in some of the Iberoamerican countries included in the study: Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador. European countries’ rates are much lower, at about 13, while the United States recorded a notable figure of 62.2.


Analysis of accident mortalityIn quest of the social objective of bringing down the accident mortality rate, it is essential to be able to work from complete, dependable and timely statistical systems in each country.The systematic measurement of the importance of accidents is fundamental for establishing prevention plans and the monitoring of their results afterwards.

The culling of figures for drawing up this study brought out a notable delay in the availability of accident statistics in most of the countries under consideration.The time lag (sometimes over five years) makes it very difficult to draw up prevention plans and decide on new policies and measures that are relevant to current circumstances.

Without undue preening, attention should be drawn to the exemplary Spanish accident statistical system of the National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadística) and the involved public bodies, which have already brought out their habitual wide-ranging and detailed figures for 2008, whereas many of the other countries included in the study trawl, even European ones, are up to three or even five years behind in their most recently produced figures.

The accident mortality figures are the bedrock indicators for drawing up preventive plans and policies,welfare programmes and other plans for repairing the main damage and for stepping up these plans and programmes in the most accident prone spheres of government activity.This is done by comparison with reference standards furnished by international organisations or the rates achieved by model countries in preventive plans and results obtained. Spain and the European Union have achieved notable improvements in road traffic, safety, health at work and law and order, but special attention must be drawn to the Cinderella subject of household and leisure-based accidents.The sky-high figures of deaths in the home and on leisure activities –outstripping road deaths in many countries– should be a wake-up call for the public authorities responsible for the adoption of preventive actions in the fields of education,work, healthcare, insurance and others related to private live and particularly homes.They now need to come up with the necessary information, recommendations, periodical controls, accident interventions, resilience and survival and the economic cover for these risks.

Another area that receives less than its due share of attention is suicides. In Spain there were over 3200 suicide deaths in 2007, very close to the road accident figure.As road deaths continue to come down, suicides might even take over as the second biggest cause of premature death in coming years. The biggest of all, unless sufficient remedial measures are taken, will be household accidents.The situation in most European countries, with the extreme position of France, and the United States, as shown in the corresponding section, makes the situation even more alarming.

There is a striking difference in the appreciation of human life depending on the development of the country in question.The most highly developed countries therefore set the highest social standards of personal safety.This position has been gradually built up on the strength of longstanding implementation of efficient measures, setting the path to follow for developing countries, with appropriate adaptations to suit each particular situation.

Lastly, stress should again be laid on the importance of the availability of reliable and timely statistical figures, with accidentrate indicators that facilitate the supervision and monitoring of the effectiveness of the preventive action taken. For this very reason it is crucial to design indicator systems for preventive actions as well.These can be correlated with the accident-rate indicators to check on the suitability of the prevention plans put into practice.



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