The High Cost of Negligence

Approximately 4 percent of the world's Gross Domestic Product\r(GDP) disappears with the cost of diseases through absences from work, sickness treatment, disability and survivor benefits, according to the International Labour Organization. (ILO)

Although fatal occupational injuries caused by accidents ranked only third in a recent report from the ILO - after work-related cancer and circulatory diseases - as the main cause of deaths at work, fatalities due to accidents usually occur among workers who have a long working career ahead of them.

The report, prepared for the XVIth World Congress on Occupational Safety and Health at Work, being held in Vienna, Austria, this week, notes the economic costs of occupational and work-related injuries and diseases are rapidly increasing.

"Let us not forget the impact that these accidents and diseases have on the families of the worker who has become injured, disabled or may have died as a result of work," said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, commenting on the report. "The emotional distress, the personal adjustment and even the financial survival of the family are also factors that must be considered."

The ILO believes that the world has a moral obligation to act, said Somavia. "We have seen the human cost of inaction which comes at an economic price. The loss in Gross Domestic Product resulting from this reality is 20 times greater than all official development assistance to developing countries."

Coverage for occupational safety and health varied widely in different parts of the world, according to the ILO report. For example, workers in Nordic countries enjoyed nearly universal coverage while only 10 percent or less of the workforce in many developing countries was likely to benefit from any sort of coverage. Even in many developed countries, coverage against occupational injury and illness may extend to only half the workforce.

Next: Strategies to Improve Safety

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