The International Labour Organization has published updated figures on the global incidence of work-related accidents and fatal illnesses, calculating that there will be 2.78 million deaths a year attributable to work in 2017, compared to a calculation of 2.33 million in 2014.
The 19% increase is due to an under-estimation of the number of respiratory disease cases in the 2014.
The new figures are based on revised “attributable fractions” (AFs) for the number of deaths from respiratory diseases linked to workplace exposures. The AFs related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.
In total, work-related mortality accounted for 5% of the global total of deaths per year, based on the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015.
The figures were released during the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health in Singapore, which took place between 3 and 6 September 2017, and prepared for the ILO and the Singapore’s Workplace Safety and Health Institute.
The research team comprises experts from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs in Finland and the Workplace Safety and Health Institute of Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower.
Asia contributed about two-thirds of the global work related mortality, followed by Africa at 11.8% and Europe at 11.7%.
Asia’s work-related fatality rate is nearly six times that of Africa and Europe.
Work-related diseases accounted for 2.4 million (86.3%) of the total estimated deaths, while fatal accidents accounted for the remaining 13.7%.
The top three work-related illnesses leading to death were circulatory diseases (31%), cancer (26%) and respiratory diseases (17%).
Together, these three contributed more than three-quarter of the total work-related mortality, followed by occupational injuries at 14% and communicable diseases (9%).
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), for example, is a growing disease world-wide and has become an important work- related problem. Unfortunatelly, it is often not well recognised and is thus under-diagnosed.
It is caused by exposures to a multitude of vapours, gases, dusts and fumes which are collectively known as VGDF (vapours, gases, dusts and fumes). Many VGDF exposures pose serious risks in workplaces and are often under-regulated.
Besides VGDF, COPD is known to be associated with specific occupational exposure agents including coal mine dust, asbestos, silica, welding and cutting gases and fumes, cement dust, diesel exhausts, , organic solvents and possibly man-made mineral fibres.
Source (Health +Safety at WorK; Global Estimates of Occupational Accidents and Work-related Illnesses 2017)