Global work-related accidents and injuries cost billions


Worldwide work-related injury and illness result in the loss of 3.9 per cent of GDP at an annual cost of roughly $4.12 billion, the recent XX1 World Congress on Safety and Health at Work was told.

The estimates are findings from a major project on the costs and benefits of OSH by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the International Labour Organization.

The project was carried out by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), the WSH Institute in Singapore, the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) and EU-OSHA.

EU-OSHA Director Dr Christa Sedlatschek says Safe and healthy work is a fundamental human right but these new estimates of the costs of poor or non-existent OSH measures show that the economic case for OSH has never been stronger.”

Good practice in OSH can help make businesses productive, competitive and sustainable, as well as reducing healthcare costs and other societal burdens.

But the costs of poor OSH are high — for individuals, business and society.

Through the costs and benefits project, EU-OSHA has taken steps to identify and evaluate the data that is available in the EU and worldwide to develop accurate and up-to-date estimates of the costs of work-related diseases and injuries.

Sobering statistics

Further findings presented at the World Congress include:

  • work-related illnesses account for 86 per cent of all deaths related to work worldwide, and 98 per cent of those in the EU.
  • 3 million DALY (disability-adjusted life years) are lost globally (7.1 million in the EU) as a result of work-related injury and illness
  • in most European countries, work-related cancer accounts for the majority of costs (€119.5 billion or 0.81 per cent of the EU’s GDP), with musculoskeletal disorders being the second largest contributor.

A new data visualization tool developed by EU-OSHA as part of the project was also unveiled at the World Congress.

It shows the global costs of work-related illnesses and accidents in an accessible way.

Key results are presented as infographics, allowing researchers and policy-makers to explore the findings quickly and easily.

With transparency and ease of use in mind, the visualisation tool also provides a glossary of frequently used terms, and a guide to the methods used.

The World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, the world’s largest gathering of OSH experts and practitioners, was held in Singapore at the beginning of this month.