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European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

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Agriculture, including forestry, plays an important part in the economic, cultural and political life of Europe. It is very diverse in the crops and livestock grown, a consequence of the geographical and cultural differences in Europe. It is also a business in which many workers are killed and injured in workplace accidents, or suffer from occupationally acquired diseases.

Over 10 million people work in agriculture. Although the numbers working, and the numbers of farms are reducing, it remains a vitally important business. There are significant differences between the 15 “pre May 2004” Member States and the new Member States. In the old Member States 4.0% of the working population work in agriculture, but in the new Member States it is 13.4%. Most farms are small businesses, often family run. Some sections, such as horticulture and forestry, have more employees but this is often on a seasonal basis.

The fatal accident rate, for the old EU 15 member States, in 2000, was 12.6 per 100 000 workers, and for accidents with more than 3 days absence the rate is over 6000 per 100 000 workers. These rates are some of the highest for any industry.

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