Report Calculates Global Toll of Occupational Accidents, Diseases
According to a new report from the International Labor Organization, occupational accidents and diseases account for the deaths of 2.78 million people around the world each year. Of these deaths, 86 percent are attributable to occupational disease.  The report, “Safety and Health at the Heart of the Future of Work: Building on 100 Years of Experience,” also summarizes the evolution of occupational health and safety since ILO’s founding in 1919 and addresses current trends that are changing the world of work. Workplace accidents affect 374 million people every year, and the cost of workdays lost to accidents equals nearly four percent of the world’s gross domestic product, the report states. “As well as the economic cost, we must recognize the immeasurable human suffering such illnesses and accidents cause,” said Manal Azzi, an occupational health and safety specialist with ILO, in a press release. “These are all the more tragic because they are largely preventable.” Among the trends affecting OHS discussed in the report are technological changes such as digitization, robotics, and nanotechnology. According to ILO, these trends can affect psychosocial health and introduce new materials with uncertain hazards into the workplace. Other trends include demographic shifts, climate change, and changes in work organization. The report notes that approximately 36 percent of the world’s work force works excessive hours, which ILO defines as more than 48 hours per week. More data from the report appears later in this issue. The report is available as a PDF from ILO's website. For more information, read the ILO press release.