ILO: Work-related mishaps, sickness cause 2.3 million deaths, $2.8-trillion losses yearly
The International Labor Organization (ILO) called on member-states to push for zero occupational accidents and deaths, citing 2.3 million people worldwide die yearly as a result of work-related accidents.
ILO Director General Guy Ryder said the direct cost of occupational illness and accidents has now reached $2.8 trillion worldwide.
“These figures are unacceptable and, yet, these daily tragedies often fail to show up on the global radar. Clearly, there is still much to be done. Serious occupational accidents are, firstly, human tragedies but economies and society also pay a high price,” Ryder said.
“The right to a safe and healthy workplace is a basic human right—a right to be respected at every level of development and in different economic conditions. Respecting this human right is an obligation—as well as a condition for sustainable economic development. Prevention is possible, it is necessary and it pays,” he said.
The ILO, along with the International Social Security Association (Issa) held on Monday, the World Congress on Safety and Health Work. The event gathered 4,000 occupational safety experts, politicians and scientists from 139 countries. The event was hosted by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV).
For the past decade, the Philippines has seen a significant rise in construction activities, amid reports of increasing work-related injuries, and even deaths, of workers in construction sites. Likewise, the country is host to around 3 million child workers, majority of them in hazardous work conditions.
Issa President Errol Frank Stoove said investment in risk prevention has led to remarkable socioeconomic benefits.
“However, with a dramatically changing world of work, the health and well-being of workers remain a concern, in particular due to mental and ergonomic strain. This requires that we develop new, integrated strategies for prevention, which connect the safety, health and well-being of the individual,” Stoove said.
Dr. Joachim Breuer, managing director of DGUV, said “vision zero is no ivory tower idea.”
“A hundred years ago in Germany there were 10,000 deaths a year at work. Last year the figure was less than 500 deaths for the first time. The number of reportable accidents had been halved in the past 20 years alone. This success is not just specific to Germany—it’s repeatable. Experience and many examples from our international cooperation efforts have shown us this,” Breuer said.
Dr. Walter Eichendorf, president of the 2014 World Congress, added: “Solutions to occupational safety problems are being developed worldwide. There are examples of best practice, with measures being tested and evaluated in the most diverse of countries. The exchange of ideas at the World Congress prevents anyone from having to start again from zero.”