Call for ‘accident database’ to reduce health costs

Injury2.jpg

A broad coalition of organisations has called on the European Commission to propose a Pan-European "Accident and Injury Data System", underlining that 5.7 million people are admitted to hospital every year due to accidents.

The organisations, which include business groups, consumer organisations, standardisation bodies and safety promoters, say they are convinced that such a system would contribute to fewer accidents and injuries, contributing to reductions in healthcare costs.

Some 41 million injuries in the EU per year cost an estimated at €78 billion for the healthcare systems; 73% of such accidents occur at home or while engaged in leisure, including sports.

“In spite of these alarming statistics, only a few countries within the EU collect systematically information on home and leisure injuries," said Wim Rogmans, secretary general of EuroSafe, the European Association for Injury Prevention and safety Promotion.

"As a result, the majority of health and consumer protection authorities are in the dark as to how to reduce the ever rising burden of this category of injuries on health care budgets."

To mark the 15th annual European Consumer Day 14 March, 28 organisations have joined forces stress the need to tackle the current disorder of data collection. They say there is a clear need for a system that allows data to be more easily compared across Europe.

A single European database would "prompt significant decreases in the costs associated with the medical treatment of injuries", according to the organisations, who say a similar US system has proved successful over the past 30 years.

However, a European injury and accident database would require a representative sample of emergency centres to record the cause of such accidents.

System helping authorities and designers

National authorities would then be able to pool and share the data of the European system, helping manufacturers to adapt their products.

The system would provide a basis for public awareness-raising campaigns, assisting legislators and surveillance authorities and standardisers to make more informed risk assessment decisions and developing better product standards.

It would benefit both governments, designers, manufacturers, retailers, service providers, standards developers, enforcement authorities, prevention agencies and civil society organisations.

"A truly comprehensive pan-European database of accidents and injuries would provide valuable information for those who are developing and revising European standards in relation to all kinds of products," said Elena Santiago Cid, the director general of the standardisation committees CEN and CENELEC.

"It would enable our experts to identify and assess specific risks associated with particular types of products, and then look for ways to eliminate or minimise these risks. The result should be better standards leading to safer products, which also means fewer accidents and injuries," she added.

Monique Goyens, the director general of the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) said that high standards of product safety coupled with robust enforcement are the bottom line of sound policy in the area.

"The ability to access reliable data on accidents is the missing link towards major progress,” Goyens stated.

Wim Rogmans, secretary general of EuroSafe, the European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion, said:

“In spite of these alarming statistics, only a few countries within the EU collect systematically information on home and leisure injuries. As a result, the majority of health and consumer protection authorities are in the dark as to how to reduce the ever rising burden of this category of injuries on health care budgets."

“A Pan-European Accident and Injury Data system is key to the development of effective policies and actions in product safety and will help create a level playing field for both consumers and business,” said Markus J. Beyrer, director general of BusinessEurope, the EU employers' organisation.

“Retailers are actively engaged with their suppliers to make sure that their products respect the highest standards of safety," said Christian Verschueren, director general of EuroCommerce, representing the retail and wholesale sector.

"However, challenges remain because of increasingly complex supply chains, new technologies, and changing consumer behaviour. A European database of injuries and accidents would complement the actions by business: it would contribute common knowledge, which would help our members develop even safer products for European consumers,” Verschueren said.

Adrian Harris, director general at Orgalime, the European engineering industries association added: “We are delighted to be able to count once again on objective data. We know that with the extensive body of health and safety legislation we have made enormous progress, but accidents still occur and therefore this will help consumers to be more aware of the risks that remain and which they must manage.”

The report, “Injuries in the European Union – Statistics Summary 2008-2010”, reveals that around 6 million people are admitted to hospital annually, with 34 million more treated as outpatients, as a result of an injury.

These injuries result in significant financial costs to individuals and families, as well as to employers and the state, in terms of lost earnings, lost production and health care costs.

Extensive research in the Netherlands and the UK reveals that the direct medical cost of injuries treated in emergency departments can be estimated at €150 per citizen.

This implies that no fewer than €78 billion are spent annually across the EU only on treatment and rehabilitation.

  • 14 March: 15th annual European Consumer Day.

Organisations

  • The European Consumer Voice in Standardisation (ANEC): Website
  • The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC): Website
  • The main horizontal business organisation at EU level (BUSINESEUROPE): Website
  • European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC): Website
  • The Retail, Wholesale and International Trade Representation to the EU (EuroCommerce): Website
  • The European Association for Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion (EuroSafe): Website
  • The European Engineering Industries Association representing the interests of the Mechanical, Electrical, Electronic, Metalworking & Metal Articles Industries (Orgalime): Website

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe