Global Estimates of the Burden of Injury and Illness at Work in 2012

Based on different starting points the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have made estimates of occupational injuries and illnesses or burden of disease. ILO has made global estimates from the point of view of occupational burden and WHO from the health point of view. Both of them have come to the conclusion that of all fatalities in industrial countries some 5– 7%[4][5] is attributed to work-related illnesses and occupational injuries. This percentage is somewhat smaller in develop- ing countries where non-occupational health problems have a bigger share.[6] While new information gradually becomes available from various sources, and when work processes, work environment, and working populations change quantitatively and qualitatively, updates of the estimates become important. Better evidence is needed for policy and practices in countries, companies, and organizations. This article and related presentation provide the latest updated information for such purposes. The article is based on the Yant Award Lecture of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at its 2013 Congress.
Economic cost studies related to injuries and illnesses have been carried out using different methods. The most appropriate method has been the incidence approach where new injuries, diseases, and disorders occurring in a particular year are counted. Once this is known—e.g., by using the attributable fraction (AF) method—all direct and indirect costs can be calculated, including costs that are extended to the expected total work life starting from an incidence in the year under consideration. Usually long term disabilities, reduced work ability and capacity due to partial disabilities, premature retirement from work, and deaths cause a lion share of economic costs. Studies and estimates by many countries and the ILO have shown that economic costs of work-related illness and injury would be equivalent to a range from 1.8%–6% of GDP.
The objective of this article is to provide an overall view of the latest data and knowledge on workplace safety and health—as yet more evidence for policy and practice.


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