SANTIAGO.- Following 31 employee deaths on-the-job during the first three months of 2009, the Regional Health Authority for the Metropolitan Region, Dr. Roberto Belmar, has called the situation a public health "epidemic".
"At the Ministry of Health and especially at the SEREMI, we are extremely concerned about this situation that we are calling a worker death epidemic, which is unacceptable for public health", Belmar told Radio Cooperativa.
The doctor also indicated that close to 30 people have received significant injuries due to workplace accidents, especially within the construction sector.
The regional authority decided to comment on the situation following yesterday's death of one of the victims of an explosion caused by a gas leak at the Hotel Militar.
Furthermore, Dr. Belmar denied the conjecture that the deaths are due to human negligence and assured that companies must offer workers good safety conditions.
The Seremi also called on business leaders to "seriously" discuss the matter and stated that company subcontracting is a risk factor and that, as a result of these kinds of accidents, companies not only risk having their projects closed down, but also fines of up to 1,000 UTM.