The true cost of deadly work
Global: Dramatic rise in work-related deaths The number of people dying as a result of work-related injuries and diseases has soared, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found. Although workplace injury deaths had fallen between 2003 and 2008, there had been a dramatic increase in deaths from work-related diseases.
ILO news release and questions and answers on global trends • Full report: Global trends and challenges on occupational safety and health, ILO, September 2011 [pdf] • BWI news release
Australia: Workers bear the cost of hazardous work It is workers, not employers, who overwhelmingly bear the costs of workplace injuries and diseases, an official Australian report has shown. The report by Safe Work Australia revealed threequarters of the costs of workplace injuries and diseases is borne by the injured workers themselves, with just 5 per cent borne by employers.
ACTU news release, 14 March 2012 and Speak up for Health and Safety website • Department for Education, Employment and Work Relations news release, 13 March 2012 • Safe Work Australia Report, March 2012.
Britain: Obeying safety rules is a responsibility, not a burden Health and safety regulation is not the burden on business the prime minister suggests, but something any responsible business should embrace, the TUC has asserted. “Regulation should not be seen as a burden on business, a TUC briefing says, adding: “It is a responsibility, just as paying taxes is a responsibility, and no business should be able to operate unless it can do so safety.”
Defending regulation, TUC Day of Action to defend health and safety bulletin No.1. TUC Workers’ Memorial Day webpages • ITUC/Hazards International Workers’ Memorial Day webpages.
TUC resources: 28 April webpage, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities • Other resources: Get kitted out with Hazards Campaign forget-me-knot ribbons, posters, lapel/stationery stickers [pdf order form], window stickers and t-shirts [pdf order form] - the perfect attire for a 28 April event. Further information from the Hazards Campaign.
USA: Bad work is more costly than you think A study that revealed the annual “economic burden” of occupational injury and illness in the US is at least $250 billion underestimates the true costs, government workplace health researchers have revealed. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) experts, writing on the agency’s blog, note “the national investment in addressing occupational illness and injuries is far less than for many other diseases with lower economic burden even though occupational illnesses and injuries are eminently preventable.”
NIOSH blog • JP Leigh. Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States, Milbank Quarterly, volume 89, number 4, pages 728-772, December 2011 [pdf] • Hazards ‘We didn’t vote to die at work’ webpages
USA: Study reveals massive costs of bad work The cost of workplace injuries and illnesses is soaring in the US, and now runs to US$250 billion (£160bn) a year, a study has found. The total, which outstrips the direct and indirect costs of all cancers, coronary heart disease and diabetes, demonstrates the need for a greater emphasis on prevention, according to author J Paul Leigh.
JP Leigh. Economic burden of occupational injury and illness in the United States, Milbank Quarterly, volume 89, number 4, pages 728-772, December 2011 [pdf]
UK: We didn't vote to die at work campaign The UK Health and Safety Executive has been hobbled by an unprecedented and savage funding cut. Safety rules are being relaxed. And the government says it’s all happening in the name of common sense. Don’t you believe it – it’s a political project driven by the business lobby and built around dangerous lies. Hazards magazine explodes the myth that health and safety regulation and enforcement is a ‘burden’ on business. More
USA: When they slam ‘regulations’, they mean ‘safety’ US Republicans are putting the blame for the country’s faltering economy at the door of ‘regulations’. Steve Benen, writing in the Washington Monthly, concludes: “What, in Republican lawmakers’ eyes, will boost the economy? Workplaces in which Americans are more likely to be injured. That’s the plan.”
Washington Monthly, 1 October 2011. • New York Times, 30 September 2011.
The trade union safety effect
Britain: Safety reps do the business Union safety reps have saved ‘countless lives’, a new TUC briefing has revealed. The message comes in the latest bulletin from TUC ahead of its national 28 April Day of Action to defend health and safety.
Defend health and safety: 28 April Day of Action, Bulletin 5, April 2012.
TUC resources: 28 April webpage, Infographic, guides to dealing with the press [pdf] and lobbying MPs [pdf] and 2012 Workers' Memorial Day and TUC Day of Action list of activities.
USA: Study shows safety inspections pay off Official workplace safety inspections lead to dramatically reduced injury rates and big savings for firms, a US study has found. The findings come in an analysis of a decade’s worth of data on safety inspections by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) in Washington State.
L&I news release, 7 October 2011. The Effect of DOSH Enforcement and Consultation Activity on the Compensable Claims Rates in Washington State, 1999-2008, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, 2011 [executive summary, pdf]
USA: Union-won law saves thousands of lives A US union-won law to protect health workers from needlesticks injuries and related bloodborne diseases has led to a dramatic reduction in injuries and related deaths. A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes: “Our findings… support the concept that well-crafted legislation bolstered by effective enforcement can be a motivating factor in the transition to injury-control practices and technologies, resulting in a safer work environment and workforce.”
Elayne K Phillips, Mark R Conaway and Janine C Jagger. Percutaneous injuries before and after the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, New England Journal of Medicine, volume 366, number 7, February 2012 [pdf] • SEIU YouTube clip on the role the union played getting the law passed.
USA: Mine safety crackdown hasn’t hurt growth An official safety crackdown in the US mining sector has not impeded the industry’s growth or harmed profits, a top official with the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has said. In his two years at the helm, MSHA director Joe Main has stepped up inspections of mines with a history of problems and creating criteria for identifying, listing and delisting violators, bolstered the number and the training of inspectors, expanded worker safety programmes and put resources into the prevention of miners’ lung, or black lung disease.
Business Week, 21 October 2011 • USW Blog, 4 November 2011.
Other background materials
Australia: ‘Red tape ideologues’ must be challenged The safety profession must challenge the ‘entrenched ideologies’ of conservatives baying for deregulation of workplace health and safety, an Australian expert has said. Kevin Jones, writing in his ‘Safety at work’ blog, says the country’s conservative political parties persist with the “ideological fantasy” that occupational health and safety laws impede growth by disrupting work and adding unnecessary operational costs.
Risks 549, 31 March 2012. Safety at work blog, 23 March 2012. TJ Larsson. Safety management systems – Culture, cognition or cash?, Safety Science Monitor, volume 14, Issue 2, 2010.
USA: AFL-CIO The AFL-CIO Workers Memorial Day webpages provide information, resources, stickers, posters, clip art, fact sheets, poems and tributes. The page also includes are very useful widget to seach on your ZIP code to find out what's happening in your area. AFL-CIO says: "Every year on April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our efforts for safe workplaces. This year we the struggle continues to create good jobs in this country that are safe and healthy and to ensure the freedom of workers to form unions and, through their unions, to speak out and bargain for respect and a better future. It's time for our country to fulfill the promise of safe jobs for all." AFL-CIO WMD webpages and resources
UK: TUC calls day of action on health and safety - 28 April 2012 Workplace health and safety has become the government’s favourite whipping boy. Safety rights and enforcement are being dismantled. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson says unions and safety campaigners must expose, discredit and take action to undermine these deadly developments.
TUC calls for action Hazards 116 October-December 2011
The TUC has produced a series bulletins on defending regulation:
• Defending Regulation - Bulletin 1
• The need for enforcement - Bulletin 2
• Compensation under threat - Bulletin 3
• Occupational disease, a time bomb the government ignores - Bulletin 4
• Union health and safety representatives - Bulletin 5
TUC has also published an infographic that makes a very persuasive case for the role of unions in making our workplaces safer.
LO - NORWAY The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen I Norge, LO) is one of the organisers of a tripartite conference to emphasise the importance of collaborative efforts to avoid injuries, accidents and illness due to work. The 27 April conference addresses a range of working environment issues where cooperation between employers and employees secures good occupational health and safety practices at work. Further information: Øyvind Rongevær • Program • Backgrounder (English)
Global: The world is gearing up for 28 April… Unions and campaigners are gearing up for 28 April, Workers’ Memorial Day – the largest annual health and safety event anywhere in the world. Global union federation ITUC and UK-based Hazards magazine are tracking the events, resources and strategies unions and safety campaign groups are employing worldwide to publicise workers’ rights to a safe workplace and to expose efforts by governments to deregulate safety.
Check out the newly revamped ITUC/Hazards Workers' Memorial Day webpages, including a worldwide list of events and resources and the ITUC/Hazards 28 April facebook page • See what happened worldwide on 28 April 2011
Britain: Enforcement works, non-enforcement kills
A drastic cut in the UK’s already under par workplace safety enforcement activity will lead to more death and injuries, the TUC has warned. The union body notes: “Good employers have always supported both regulation and enforcement because it means that their competitors cannot take short-cuts with people's safety and undercut them,” concluding: “It is only unscrupulous or incompetent employers who fear consistent and fair regulation of health and safety.”
The need for enforcement, TUC Day of Action to defend health and safety bulletin No.2. We didn’t vote to die at work campaign
Worldwide, hundreds of thousands die in workplace “accidents”. Millions die of occupational diseases. Every year. Union organisation is the remedy. Prevention is the only cure.
DO YOU REMEMBER WHO DIED AT WORK?
ON THIS PAGE
28 APRIL ACTION
Contact us with news on your national initiatives for Workers' Memorial Day 2012.
Send us your posters, logos and other resources
Let’s see your photographs
The global 28 April activities listing is compiled and maintained by
the International Trade Union Confederation and Hazards magazine