Whether it’s a failure to protect workers against toxic chemicals, or a sleep-deprived employee getting into a fatal car accident, millions of people are hurt or killed at work each year. Now, with the arrival of the world’s first International Standard on Occupational Health and Safety, many such incidents can be prevented.
Puslished on ISO.org | Clare Naden
The next time someone tells you “my job is killing me”, remember that it may not just be a figure of speech. Every 15 seconds, in the world, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease, and 153 people experience a work-related injury. And now there’s new data that workplace accidents are on the rise, amounting to some 500 000 more injuries than just three short years ago.
''Every 15 seconds in the world, a worker dies from a work related accident or disease, and 153 people experience a work-related injury.''
According to recent calculations by the International Labour Organization (ILO), 2.78 million deaths occur due to work yearly. This means that, every day, almost 7 700 persons die of work-related diseases or injuries. In 2014, the figure was estimated to be only 2.3 million, a discrepancy that may be attributed to increasing life expectancy and new data utilized in recent calculations. Additionally, there are some 374 million non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses each year, many of these resulting in extended absences from work. This paints a sober picture of the modern workplace – one where workers can suffer serious consequences as a result of simply “doing their job”.
Along with a growing (and enormous) cost for workers and their families, occupational health and safety (OH&S) has staggering impacts on economic and social development. The United Nations agency unveiled estimates showing that, worldwide, the total cost of illnesses, injuries and deaths was 3.94 % of the global gross domestic product (GDP), or about USD 2.99 trillion, in direct and indirect costs of injuries and diseases.
But there’s more. The economic impact of failing to invest in worker safety and health is nearly equal to the combined GDP of the 130 poorest countries in the world. Indeed, the scale of the challenge is huge.
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