23/09/2005

Global workplace deaths vastly under-reported, says ILO

Some 2.2 million people die of work-related accidents and diseases each year,
the International Labour Office (ILO) sais in a new report issued at the 17th
World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, adding this number may be vastly
under estimated due to poor reporting and coverage systems in many countries.

While the number of work-related illnesses and deaths has lessened somewhat in
the industrialized countries, the ILO report said the number of accidents - in
particular fatal accidents - appear to be increasing, particularly in some
Asian countries due to poor reporting, rapid development and strong competitive
pressures of globalization.

"Occupational safety and health is vital to the dignity of work", sais ILO
Director-General Juan Somavia. "Still, every day, on average, some 5,000 or
more women and men around the world lose their lives because of work-related
accidents and illness. Decent Work must be safe work, and we are a long way
from achieving that goal."

What's more, the ILO report, entitled Decent Work - Safe Work, ILO Introductory
Report to the XVIIth World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, Orlando, USA,
also warns that work-related malaria and other communicable diseases as well as
cancers caused by hazardous substances are taking a huge toll, mostly in the
developing world. The majority of the global workforce lacks legal or
preventive safety or health measures, accident or illness compensation and has
no access to occupational health services.

"The sad truth is that in some parts of the world, many workers will probably
die for lack of an adequate safety culture", said Jukka Takala, Director of the
ILO SafeWork Programme. "This is a heavy price to pay for uncontrolled
development. We must act swiftly to reverse these trends."

The report notes that men, in particular, are at risk of dying at working age
(below 65) while women suffer more from work-related communicable diseases,
psycho-social factors and long-term musculo-skeletal disorders. In several
industrial countries, more than half of the retirements are based on early
retirements and disability pensions rather than workers reaching the normal
retirement age. While not all factors behind these trends are directly caused
by work, the workplace is in a key position for prevention and maintaining work
ability through its management system.

The ILO report sais reporting systems and coverage of occupational safety and
health in many developing countries are poor and in some cases deteriorating.
For example, India reports 222 fatal accidents while the Czech Republic, which
has a working population of about 1 per cent of India, reports 231, the ILO
said, adding that it has estimated the true number of fatal accidents in India
at 40,000. The report said such statistics suggested that only a fraction of
the real toll of work-related death and disease is covered in a number of
developing countries.

The ILO report also notes that hazardous substances cause the deaths of an
estimated 440,000 workers each year. Of these, asbestos alone kills some
100,000 workers worldwide each year. The number of people killed by asbestos in
the United Kingdom, according to that country's own estimates, is some 3,500
every year - more than ten times the number of workers killed in accidents
there.

The European Union, meanwhile, recently in its own Statistical Portrait Report
estimated a total of 120,000 fatalities (EU 15) attributed to work while the
ILO's estimate is now at 122,000 work-related deaths annually. The United
States number is estimated to be 103,000.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: International Labour Organisation (ILO)