ILO Releases Report for Workers Memorial Day

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has issued a report coinciding with Workers Memorial Day referred to by the organization as World Day for Safety and Health at Work that pinpoints the need for better planning and coordination with regard to addressing safety and health issues on construction sites, as well as a greater focus on reducing work-related ill health and disease.

A concern of the ILO is the construction industry. The organization cites data showing that at least 60,000 fatal workplace accidents occur each year worldwide in construction about one death every 10 minutes. About 17 percent of all fatal workplace accidents occur in this sector, while construction workers also face a number of health risks, including exposure to asbestos-laden dusts, silica and hazardous chemicals.

The organization also predicts increases in the number of young people (age 15 to 24) and older people (age 60 and over) entering the work force over the next 15 years, and cautions that workers in these two age groups tend to suffer higher on the job accident rates. The report calls for the development of specially tailored accident and disease prevention programs for workers in these two age groups.

In addition, ILO statistics show that worldwide job-related accidents and illnesses are on the rise because of rapid industrialization in some developing countries, according to the organization.

"This is happening because in the newly developing countries workers are often coming out of the rural areas, with few skills and very little training in safe work practices," said Jukka Takala, director of the ILO's Safework Programme. "Most have never worked with heavy machinery, and some have little or no experience with industrial hazards such as electricity, so they don't know how dangerous these things can be. Yet these are elements of the kinds of jobs that are available for low-skilled workers in rapidly industrializing countries.

"Once countries reach a more mature stage of development, there is a shift from construction to less dangerous service jobs and the accident rates begin to level off. We are seeing this now in South Korea, for example."

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