Exhibit highlights workplace dangers

  • 2013-03-06
  • Staff and wire reports

Installation at Esplanade Park represents workplace deaths last year in Latvia.

RIGA - The number of people killed in workplace accidents in Latvia is twice as high as the average number in Europe, Free Trade Union Confederation of Latvia expert on occupational safety Ziedonis Antapsons said on Feb. 25 as he was opening a new occupational safety campaign, reports LETA.

A provocative installation near Rainis Monument on the Esplanade in the center of Riga (now removed) showed 34 human figures covered with white bedsheets, as in a hospital ward, symbolizing the number of people killed in workplace accidents in Latvia last year, was unveiled in order to turn the spotlight on the consequences of people failing to observe occupational safety requirements.

Work on construction sites without wearing hard hats or cutting trees without knowing the right way to do this is extremely dangerous, and the campaign is intended to emphasize the importance of occupational safety measures, said the Free Trade Union Confederation’s Chairman Peteris Krigers.
The installation was on view all week, and occupational safety experts were offering advice on occupational safety matters at the installation from Feb. 26 to Feb. 28.

The campaign, though, takes the view that it is the employee’s responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe, and that it is the employee’s duty to convince the employer that a safer workplace and safety training is needed.
Rather, if any of these 34 employees killed at work last year, as symbolized in this campaign, were the result of wrongful death issues, such as employer negligence in the workplace, or a dangerous work environment, then another approach to get the employer’s attention would be to take the case to court, some have suggested. The threat of substantial monetary awards paid to the dead worker’s family could make the employer think twice about maintaining unsafe working conditions.

Between the beginning of January and Feb. 11 of this year, twelve persons were killed in work-related accidents, which is a threefold increase when compared to the same period last year, according to information from the State Labor Inspectorate.