Preventing disease through a healthier and safer workplace

This assessment is a comprehensive report combining: a) the key evidence linking diseases and injuries to occupational risks; b) a quantitative assessment of the disease burden attributable to selected occupational risks; and c) a compilation of general interventions and selected examples of occupational and environmental interventions that successfully improve health.
This study estimates that in 2015, more than 1.2 million deaths globally were attributable to occupational risks, which represent 2.1% of all deaths in the general population. When accounting for both deaths and disability, the fraction of the global disease burden in the general population due to occupation amounts to 2.7%. Noncommunicable diseases contribute 70%, injuries 22% and infectious diseases 8% to the total disease burden from occupational risks. Low- and middle-income countries are disproportionally affected by occupational death and disease.
This study provides an approximate estimate of how much disease can be prevented by reducing occupational risks to health. The analysis uses a combination of approaches with a clear focus on comparative risk assessment methods, which apply detailed exposure and exposure-risk information. Of the 1.2 million deaths attributable to occupation, 1.1 million (90%) were estimated using comparative risk assessment methods, and the remaining using more limited epidemiological data and expert opinion. While the evidence has shown that many diseases are caused by occupational risks to health, to date, only a limited number of those
could be quantified, suggesting that the disease burden from occupational risks presented in this report remains a conservative estimate.
This assessment summarizes extensive information on interventions to reduce the burden of disease due to occupation. It lists general interventions by disease or injury as well as selected examples of occupational and environmental interventions from the epidemiological literature. Occupational risks, in this study, include physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial risks, working conditions and the built environments of workplaces.


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