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Safety at Work

Worker wearing a helmet with ear protection, goggles and gloves
Pie chart: 7% of world population affected (428 millions) Bar chart: 2.2 million deaths per year Unknown trend

Employees need occupational safety to keep their health and capacity to work.

Affected people and foundations of life: There were about 268 million occupational accidents and 160 million victims of work-related illnesses in 2001 (ILO [International Labour Organization] 2005, 3, 7, 1). During their working lives globally 20-30% of the male and 5-20% of the female working-age population are exposed to lung carcinogens, like asbestos, arsenic, cadmium, diesel exhaust, etc. (and so on) Worldwide 10% of cancer of the lung, trachea and bronchus can be attributed to occupational exposures. Millions of workers in mining, construction etc. are exposed to microscopic airborne particles of silica, asbestos and coal dust. (WHO [World Health Organization] 2002, 75.)

Deaths: about 2.2 million by work-related diseases or accidents in 2001 (ILO 2005, 3, 7, 1).

Loss of healthy life-years:

  • injuries: 13.1 million healthy life-years (DALYs [disability-adjusted life years]) in 2000
  • noise: 4.15 million DALYs in 2000
  • airborne particulates: 3.04 million DALYs in 2000
  • carcinogens: 1.42 million DALYs in 2000
  • ergonomic stressors: 0.818 million DALYs in 2000 (WHO 2002, 226).

Targets/goals: no international target.

Trend: ? no summarizing trend data available.

Measures: Occupational cancers are entirely preventable through hygiene measures, substitution of safer materials, enclosure of processes, and ventilation (WHO 2002, 75).


DALYs: Disability-adjusted life years.
One DALY represents the loss of one year of equivalent full health. DALYs are the sum of the years of life lost due to premature mortality (YLL) in the population and the years lost due to disability (YLD) for incident cases of the health condition. (WHO 2004, 95f.)


Draft (2008)

This draft is to be reviewed by experts. Your hints are welcome, please use the contact form.

Photo credit: © BMU/Oberhäuser