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Safety by the Numbers (or How to Waste Trillions of Dollars) [Photo Gallery]

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), 2.3 million people worldwide die annually as a result of occupational illnesses and accidents at work. In addition, there are 860,000 injury-causing occupational accidents every day. The direct or indirect cost of occupational illness and accidents at work is estimated at $US 2.8 trillion worldwide.

“These figures are unacceptable and yet these daily tragedies often fail to show up on the global radar,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. “Clearly, there is still much to be done. Serious occupational accidents are, firstly, human tragedies but economies and society also pay a high price.”

Calling for “a culture of intolerance towards risks at work,” Ryder comments, "Ebola and the tragedies it is causing are in the daily headlines – which is right. But work-related deaths are not. So, the task ahead is to establish a permanent culture of consciousness."

Fatalities and injuries take a heavy toll in the United States as well: Nearly 3 billion workers are injured each year and the estimated cost to business of disabling worker injuries is $55.4 billion.

The human cost, of course, is incalculable.

“The challenge we face is a daunting one. Work claims more victims around the globe than does war: an estimated 2.3 million workers die every year from occupational accidents and diseases,” says Ryder. “Prevention is possible, it is necessary and it pays."

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