The Secretary of Organization and Occupational Health of the General Union of Workers (UGT) in Castile-La Mancha, Javier Flores, has called for an update to the list of occupational diseases as many workers’ illnesses resulting from work activity are not recognized by the system. Flores highlighted what he described as «a significant underdeclaration of professional illnesses, both in our region and throughout the country». He explained that this results in high costs for workers who receive less recognition for their illnesses and for the public health system.
Flores cited numerous cases where sicknesses resulting from work are not recognized, including cleaners who suffer illnesses that the insurance company does not acknowledge, office workers with symptoms such as tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, and factory employees with musculoskeletal injuries. Flores revealed that in the past year, 613 professional illnesses were declared in the region, a 30% increment from the previous year.
According to Flores, the 40 to 49-year-old age group accounted for 35% of all professional illnesses. Men accounted for 351 cases, while women accounted for 262. The most common illnesses were those caused by physical agents, followed by those caused by chemicals, inhalation of substances, skin conditions, biological agents, and only 2 caused by carcinogenic agents.
Flores also noted that there was a significant underdeclaration of cancers of occupational origin in Spain, particularly compared with other countries such as France and Germany, where between 5% and 10% of cancer diagnoses are linked to the workplace.
Flores concluded by drawing attention to the risks associated with psychosocial factors in the workplace, calling for employers to be prohibited from communicating with their employees outside working hours, the establishment of the right to disconnect digitally, and for the inclusion of burnout syndrome in the list of recognized occupational diseases. Overall, Flores’s call for an update to the list of occupational diseases highlights the need to recognize and address the health issues faced by workers as a result of their work activity.