Reports of fatal workplace accidents in Germany have increased in frequency over the past few weeks. The latest victim is a Lufthansa employee at Hamburg-Fuersbüttel Airport. The worker was trapped by the hangar door on December 2, aviation news portal aero.de reported.
At approximately 19:00, an aircraft will be removed from Hangar 6 at the Lufthansa base. The head of the 53-year-old man who opened the exit was caught between the massive gate and part of the hangar structure. He was seriously injured and was pronounced dead by emergency doctors who rushed to the scene.
Lufthansa Technik and the Hamburg police were quick to announce that “at the moment, no one else is to blame.” However, this latest horrific death raises many questions.
For example, the giant hangar doors are often equipped with sensors that react to nearby motion and stop working immediately if someone is in the danger zone. is that so? If so, is the sensor defective? Or was the device turned off for some reason (presumably to save time and money)? Is this colleague familiar enough to install, or is he an inadequately trained temp?
Lufthansa Technik is notorious for using temporary workers. The company has laid off 900 temporary workers across the country as long-term contractors work short hours amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Lufthansa has been known to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to implement massive job cuts. The company received billions of euros from the government as part of an official coronavirus aid package, while cutting 31,000 jobs.
The company’s technology division has been hit especially hard. Workers faced mounting pressure and extra work when the sector resumed operations. Meanwhile, Lufthansa Technik reported a 7% rise in turnover to 4 billion euros in 2021, with a profit of 163 million euros.
Big corporations are using the current crisis to boost profits, while workers are paying the price in the form of pay cuts, increased work stress and health problems. More and more workers are also paying with their lives.
Lufthansa’s fatal accident was by no means the only one. Over the past few weeks, there have been a flurry of reports of fatal accidents at work.
At the Duisburg steelworks, there have been two serious work accidents in the past eight weeks, one of which had fatal consequences. In another case, after a worker fell to his death at an Amazon site in Leipzig, the body was simply covered with cardboard and operations continued as usual.
The accumulation of work-related fatalities has been evident in the last year. According to statistics from the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), fatal accidents at work will increase by almost 28% in 2021 compared to 2020, from 399 to 510. This grim figure – almost two fatal accidents per working day – is undoubtedly lower than the real total, since even serious accidents at work are not always reported to employers’ liability insurance societies.
Germany’s transport sector, including aviation, was already hit by an increase in accidents last year. The number of fatal accidents at work has risen from 61 in 2020 to 102 in 2021, an increase of more than 67%, transport organization BG Verkehr announced.
That number has naturally dropped during the massive coronavirus outbreak, although many workers have died from the virus. The number of serious and fatal accidents declined steadily in the years leading up to the pandemic, but since 2021 it has skyrocketed again. This year, the number of accidents has undoubtedly risen further.
On the construction front, figures for 2022 were released a few days ago. They made it clear that construction is a life-threatening business. As of the end of August, 56 construction workers had died on the job this year, the construction employers’ liability insurance association (BG Bau) announced on December 5. This equates to one fatal accident every four days in the construction industry. During the same period, the construction industry reported 65,701 occupational accidents.
The main causes of death were said to be falls from heights and falling construction components. However, more fundamental reasons include intense stress and work pressure, fatigue from constant overtime, and a lack of occupational safety measures.
On the morning of 6 December, another construction worker died. A 38-year-old man was killed while using technical equipment during bridge construction on the A7 highway in the Petersburg area near Fulda. A few days ago, there was a fatal accident on the nearby railway tracks. A construction worker was trapped between a rail vehicle and a lorry near Fulda on 24 November. He died at the scene of the accident.