With more than 50% of port workers in our portfolio, Vanbreda Risk & Benefits possesses the data for occupational accidents for the majority of companies operating in the Port of Antwerp. For the second year in a row, we have described evolutions, successes and problem areas in this sector in our Port Barometer. This knowledge enables us to support our clients’ risk management even more effectively.
Between 2012 and 2016, there was a steady drop in the number of accidents at work at the Port of Antwerp: from 1,453 to 1,063. This evolution continued in 2017 with 1,043 recorded accidents. “However, it’s noteworthy that in 2017 the total losses again rose sharply, to over EUR 8 million”, commented Dominique De Clercq, Senior Account Manager at Vanbreda. The reason: in 2017 there were more claims resulting in permanent incapacity to work. There were 47 occupational accidents involving permanent disability in 2016, and 82 cases in 2017.
The number of accidents while commuting also dropped between 2012 and 2014 but has been rising again since 2015. 2017 ended with 109 accidents, the highest in six years. Once again, it is striking here that losses rose sharply in 2017, to almost EUR 1.6 million. The number of claims involving permanent incapacity to work has more than doubled in the space of a year: from 6 to 14.
The Port Barometer also examines whether the type of port activity affects the occupational accidents. This turns out to be the case. De Clercq: “General cargo is traditionally the port activity with the highest losses. In 2017 there was also a significant increase in losses related to Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) activities. These amounted to EUR 3.2 million, twice as much as in 2016. However, there was only a slight increase in the number of accidents during this period: from 368 to 374.”
“Our analysis reveals that the positive evolution of previous years did not continue in 2017”, said Geert De Krem, Occupational Accidents expert at Vanbreda. “Although the number of Antwerp port workers insured rose and the number of claims for occupational risks fell, 2017 saw a sharp rise in losses for accidents at work. This was due to the increase in the number of very serious occupational accidents in the workplace. For example, in 2017 there were more claims resulting in permanent incapacity to work. As a result, losses increased by 45% compared to the preceding year.”
For the commuting risk, losses even rose by 116%. De Krem: “There are two reasons for this: more accidents were recorded and the severity increased. This means that the port is no longer escaping the trend which was already apparent in other sectors.”
It remains to be seen whether 2017 was an atypical year. In any case, Vanbreda and Cepa will continue to focus on prevention in 2019, both at work and during commuting. Investment in safety is essential to achieve a sustainable improvement in working conditions.
“We definitely find that efforts in the area of prevention pay off. Our business customers who invest strongly in this area can keep their losses under control and even reduce them in most cases”, said Dominique De Clercq.
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