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PEO union calls on state to properly staff labour inspection unit after latest workplace death

Most deaths and injuries happen in construction

PEO union on Sunday called on the state to properly staff the department of labour inspection following the death of a 25-year-old woman in a workplace accident on Saturday in Nicosia.

Odyssea Iacovou was, an employee at a restaurant in Nicosia was killed when some shelves fell on her in a storeroom in the restaurant where she worked in Strovolos.

According to police, the accident happened around 1pm when Iacovou went to fetch something from the storeroom. The metal shelves were holding drinks and water containers and one toppled over. First aid was given at the scene but Iacovou did not respond. Her death was confirmed at Nicosia General Hospital. A state pathologist ruled out foul play. According to reports, the young woman had injuries to her neck and died instantly.

In a statement on Sunday, PEO expressed “sincere condolences to the family and relatives”.
“In recent years, accidents at work have increased to such an extent that they have become a scourge,” the statement said.

From 2013 until the end of 2017, the union said, “the increase in the number of accidents at work was 74 per cent and the frequency index increased by 41 per cent”.

“PEO once again calls on employers to assume their responsibilities under the legislation and to take all necessary measures to protect their employees,” it added.

It also called on “the government to adequately staff the relevant government department so that it can exercise its supervisory role of implementing legislation. The ministry of labour, as the responsible ministry in charge of implementing the law, must resolutely challenge the illegality and irresponsibility of a share of employers who put profit over the life of their workers.”

It was revealed last month that the number of industrial accidents had risen per cent since the economic crisis in 2013 with companies cutting corners to save on costs.

That news came only days after the association of insurance companies said most workplaces on the island were not insured and that injured workers were forced to wait decades for compensation.

According to official figures from labour inspection department reports, there were 2,070 work accidents – five to six a day on average – in 2017 compared with 1,538 in 2013, though fatalities were down since then.

There were a total of 28 workplace-related deaths over the five-year period, with nine fatalities in 2013, five in 2014, four in 2015 and five in 2016.

According to Sek union there were particular problems in the construction sector, but accidents also happened in manufacturing, the wholesale and retail trade and the food supply sector.

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