Over 2 Million Die in Work-Related Accidents and Illnesses Annually

September 20, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 2.2 million people die in work-related accidents and diseases each year.

In its report, Decent Work – Safe Work, ILO Introductory Report to the XVIIth World Congress on Safety and Health at Work,the ILO says this number could be grossly underestimated because of poor reporting and coverage systems in many countries.

In its press release, the ILO said the number of work-related illnesses and deaths has lessened some in industrialized countries, while the number of accidents appear to be increasing, according to the report. ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said in the release, “…every day, on average, some 5,000 or more women and men around the world lose their lives because of work-related accidents and illness. Decent work must be safe work, and we are a long way from achieving that goal.”

The ILO estimates the number of work-related deaths annually in the US to be 103,000.

The report notes that men are more likely to die before age 65 due to work-related illnesses and accidents, while women are more prone to suffer more from work-related communicable diseases, psycho-social factors, and long-term musculo-skeletal disorders.

The ILO report also noted that hazardous substances cause the deaths of an estimated 440,000 workers each year, 100,000 of which die from exposure to asbestos. The United Kingdom estimates more than ten times the number of workers killed in accidents are killed from exposure to asbestos.

The report also said that workers age 15-24 are more likely to suffer non-fatal work-related accidents, while workers over 55 are more likely to suffer from fatal work-related accidents and illnesses than others.

Finally, according to the news release, the ILO said in its report that smoking, which affects mostly workers in the restaurant, entertainment and service sectors, is estimated to cause 14% of all work-related deaths caused by disease, or close to 200,000 fatalities.