Background materials

ITUC/CSI 28 April Focus Announced for 2007 - Cancer, OHS Enforcement & Global Unions, Asbestos & HIV/AIDS Campaigns English Español Français

• Work related deaths on the rise more

• Hazards asbestos webpage more

• Hazards organising webpage more

• 11th International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, 28 April. ICFTU news release

• Dead and injured workers remembered 28 April ‘Commemoration Day’ is beacon for change ICFTU news release [pdf]

• ICFTU Workers' Memorial Day background document [pdf], safety web pages and listing of activities [pdf]

Non-Workers' Memorial Day materials

• ILO's World Day for Safety and Health at Work. more


Work-related deaths on the rise

As many as 5,000 people die every day as a result of work-related accidents or illnesses, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said. The UN body said the global death toll from work-related incidents and disease was an estimated 2.2 million a year, 10 per cent higher than three years ago.

“Occupational safety and health is vital to the dignity of work”, said 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.”

The September 2005 ILO report said that while fatalities have fallen in industrialised nations, they are on the rise elsewhere, particularly in Asia. The majority of workers lack legal protection on safety issues while most cannot claim compensation for injuries or illnesses suffered in the workplace, the ILO warned. Concerted action is needed at national and international levels, the ILO said, to strengthen workplace safety regulations and to improve compliance by employers.

ILO said it was particularly concerned about the low level of reporting of workplace accidents by some countries, particularly developing nations. India reported 222 fatal work-related accidents in 2001, but the ILO estimates the real figure to be closer to 40,000. China, whose economic growth has been fuelled by a boom in construction and low-cost production, reported 12,554 fatal accidents in 2001. The ILO believes the actual death toll was closer to 90,000.

The report noted that men, in particular, are at risk of dying at working age (below 65) while women suffer more from work-related communicable diseases, psychosocial factors and long-term musculoskeletal disorders.

The report stressed that some countries needed to introduce tougher laws governing workplace safety, while enforcement must be beefed up. “Inspectors should not be considered as nuisance or threats to business,” it said. “Countries with the best inspection systems are also the most competitive ones worldwide.”

ILO news release, Decent Work - Safe Work, ILO introductory report to the XVIIth World Congress on Safety and Health at Work [pdf] and interview with ILO Safework director Jukka Takala.


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