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Work safety

According to the latest estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the number of work-related deaths has risen by over 5 percent since 2015, reaching nearly three million fatalities annually. This alarming toll reflects the ongoing challenges in prioritizing the health and safety of workers worldwide.

The majority of these work-related deaths, accounting for 2.6 million fatalities, result from work-related diseases, while work accidents contribute to an additional 330,000 deaths. Notably, circulatory diseases, malignant neoplasms, and respiratory diseases emerge as the primary causes of work-related fatalities, collectively responsible for over three-quarters of the total mortality.

The ILO has released these new findings as part of their report titled “A Call for Safer and Healthier Working Environments,” which will be presented at the 23rd World Congress on Safety and Health at Work. This significant international conference, taking place in Sydney, Australia, aims to address these critical issues.

The report also highlights a gender disparity in work-related deaths, with a higher rate among men (51.4 per 100,000 working age adults) compared to women (17.2 per 100,000). Furthermore, the Asia and Pacific region bear the highest burden of work-related mortality, accounting for 63 percent of the global total, primarily due to the large size of the workforce in the region.

The agriculture, construction, forestry, fishing, and manufacturing sectors are identified as the most hazardous, causing 200,000 fatal injuries each year, representing 63 percent of all occupational fatalities. Notably, one out of every three fatal occupational injuries globally occurs in the agricultural sector.

To address these pressing issues and ensure safer and healthier workplaces worldwide, the ILO has introduced the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health for 2024-2030. This strategic plan aims to prioritize worker well-being in line with the ILO’s commitment to social justice and the promotion of decent work around the world.

The strategy emphasizes three key pillars for action. First, it calls for enhancing national Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) frameworks by improving governance, promoting accurate data collection, and building competency. Second, it emphasizes the need to strengthen coordination, partnerships, and investment in OSH at both national and global levels. Lastly, the strategy focuses on enhancing workplace OSH management systems by endorsing the ILO-OSH 2001 principles, developing gender-responsive guidance, and tailoring it to specific hazards, risks, sectors, and occupations.

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