On Wednesday, over the course of one day, two workers and two small business owners didn’t make it back home to their loved ones. Carmelo Barbagallo, the general secretary of the UIL union, summed it up: “This is like a daily war casualty report—it’s unacceptable.” But that’s how things are in Italy, which has a terrifying average of three workplace deaths every day (including holidays), not to mention the many non-fatal—but often crippling—workplace accidents.
The first death came in the morning, in the port of Livorno, on Calata Carrara, where the Moby Kiss ferry is docked for maintenance works. During these operations, Vincenzo Langella, 51, from Torre del Greco, who worked on the Moby Kiss as a mechanic, was operating a forklift when part of the structure of an elevator ramp broke off unexpectedly and hit him in the head. Despite all the efforts of the emergency medical personnel, Langella was pronounced dead at the scene.
Almost simultaneously, in the province of Cuneo, Daniel Racca, a 44-year-old construction veteran and owner of a small construction business, died in Savigliano while working at the former Origlia factory, which has been turned into a construction site for redevelopment. Racca was working on a mobile elevated platform when he was crushed by a large tube he was cutting, which suddenly collapsed against a beam. The fire brigade needed to intervene in order to retrieve his body.
Later on, another small entrepreneur in the field of construction, Nicola Palumbo, aged 54, died in Ravello, in the province of Salerno, while working on a construction site in San Cosma, after he was crushed by an elevated platform that suddenly broke free from its steel cables. The platform fell from a height of 10 meters on top of Palumbo, who died in an ambulance while on route to the hospital in Salerno.
The fourth of the day’s casualties occurred in Seurru in Sestu, the Cagliari region. Renzo Corona, aged 65, had just finished his shift picking vegetables for a local company in Sestu, and was about to go to lunch with a colleague. The latter put a van in reverse without realizing that Corona was crossing the road just behind it, and accidentally ran him over.
The general secretary of CGIL, Maurizio Landini, summed up this tragic situation: “There have been over 200 dead since the beginning of the year, and the number of workplace accidents and cases of occupational diseases has been increasing. There is still a prevailing culture that sees workplace health and safety not as an investment but as an extra cost, and people keep dying just like they did 50 years ago. There is a lot of talk about the digital era and technologies, about new ways of working, but often the organizational models and the prevalent modes of thinking are completely different. We have to act on this: we need to invest more in training and prevention. And it’s necessary to invest more in the inspection bodies.”
The regional secretary of CIB UNICOBAS for Tuscany, Claudio Galatolo, highlighted the same issue: “It’s not enough to have laws and safety protocols issued by a plethora of institutions, if these are not applied due to a lack of a willingness to do so, a lack of training courses, and a lack of inspectors to check that the norms in force are being respected.”