Justice takes on average five years and eight months to issue the first sentence in work accidents

Some criminal court rulings from 2022 refer to accidents from 2004 and in 2021 they dealt with events from the last century.

Justice takes on average five years and eight months to issue the first sentence in work accidents

Some criminal court rulings from 2022 refer to accidents from 2004 and in 2021 they dealt with events from the last century


Criminal Courts take an average of five years and eight months to issue a first ruling in matters of work accidents, according to a report on employment security included in the Report of the State Attorney General's Office for 2022. .

And it is that, during 2022, 432 sentences were handed down on labor accidents, some that occurred almost 20 years ago. Specifically, the justice system handed down 19 sentences for events that occurred between 2004 and 2009, although the times were improved compared to the sentences in 2021, when cases dating back to 1999 were resolved. Of course, the average of five years and eight months is higher to the five years and seven months on average that were registered in 2021.

With this panorama, the Public Prosecutor's Office has expressed its concern about this "long period of time", since it implies a "greater difficulty to hold the trial and sustain the indictment". Likewise, it emphasizes the need to concentrate the investigation and prosecution of the procedures in specialized courts that give a "quick and well-founded" response to the citizens who are victims of said crimes.

"It continues to surprise and worry you to find sentences handed down in 2022 on very old events," says the Prosecutor's Office, which highlights that, for example, seven sentences were handed down on accidents that occurred in 2008.

The figure of 432 sentences in the Criminal Court represents an increase of 6% compared to last year. Regarding the provincial hearings, 66 sentences were handed down, 10% more. However, in the Report the Prosecutor's Office has had access to 341 sentences from the Criminal Court, of which 264 were convictions compared to 77 acquittals. Based on criminal convictions, the construction sector continues to lead the highest accident rate, followed by services, industry and agriculture.

But the report included in the Report not only includes data on occupational accidents, but also dedicates a section to relations between the Prosecutor's Office and the Labor Inspectorate.

From this section it can be deduced that the agency under the Ministry of Labor sent up to 2,070 files to the Prosecutor's Office, of which 300 were for violations due to serious or very serious work accidents, 85 for violations due to fatal accidents and 14 work stoppages.

The Public Prosecutor explains that, along the same lines as previous years, the number of files sent by Labor has increased. Even so, the decrease in reports due to fatal work accidents stands out (-25%) and the rise to more than triple the number of stoppages, as well as serious violations of systematically non-compliant conduct by companies.

The report on occupational accidents also includes data on the number of fatal accidents at work during 2022, when a figure of 826 was reached, which implies an increase of 17% compared to the 705 in 2021.

These fatal accidents are those deaths as a result of a work accident within a period of one year from the date of the accident, regardless of the initial severity. Of the total deaths, 679 were during the work day and 147 'in itinere', that is, during the trip from their home to their workplace and vice versa.

Both self-employed and salaried workers are included in the figure of 826 accidents. Of course, it was the salaried workers who accumulated the highest number of deaths, with a total of 747 compared to 79 for self-employed workers. Based on these data, the Occupational Health and Safety Unit has expressed its "deep concern" about the notable increase in the number of deceased workers during 2022.

Of the 679 accidents during work hours, 285 were caused by natural causes such as heart attacks or strokes, among others. 99 were traffic accidents; 103 were caused by entrapments, crushes and amputations; 32 due to collisions or blows against moving objects; 89 for blows on or against the result of a fall of the worker; 23 due to drowning in a liquid and 48 due to other causes.

If these latest data are compared to those of 2021, the largest increases are suffered by entrapments, crushes or amputations, since in 2021 there were 85 compared to 103 this year. Drownings in liquid, for their part, went from six in 2021 to 23 in 2022.

Of the 747 workers in companies, 608 suffered the accident during the work day, which implies a growth of 20% compared to the data for 2021. In absolute terms, the figure exceeds 100 deaths registered one year before and remains the highest in the last five years.

If we look at the activity sector, it was the services sector that accumulated the highest number of deaths, with 285, representing 47% of the total. For its part, in construction, industry and the agricultural sector, 133, 107 and 83 workers died, respectively.

These numbers have meant that in all areas the annual incidence of work accidents has grown in all sectors. It is in agriculture where the greatest growth occurs, with 16.98%, followed by construction (14.33%), industry (5.09%) and services (2.27%).

In this way, while in 2018 there were 3.59 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants registered with Social Security with contingencies due to work accidents covered, in 2022 there have been 3.78, compared to 3.30. of the year 2021.

On the other hand, and looking at the number of fatal, serious and minor accidents among salaried workers, a total of 519,376 has been reached, that is, 11.5% more than in 2021 and the highest figure in the last five years. Minor accidents were the ones that registered the highest amount, with a total of 515,652; followed very far by the 3,116 serious injuries and the 608 fatal accidents.

The report on workplace accidents makes a special note of the "disparity" in the numbers of fatal accidents that occur between men and women. Thus, of the total of 608 fatal accidents during work hours, 567 were men and 41 women, in line with what happened in 2021, when there were 480 men and 28 women who were the victims.

This means that in 2021, for every 14 male deaths, there was one female death. Now, if we look at the fatal accidents 'in itinere', there were 106 deaths of men and 33 of women, so that for every three workers, one worker died.

"The comparison between both data is overwhelming and the question that must be answered is why there is a difference in the numbers," the Public Prosecutor's Office states in its Report. Among the suggested answers is that many professions with high accident rates are "mostly masculinized", as is the case of construction.