Wednesday, 20 October, 2021

Work-related accidents, illnesses kill nearly 2m each year: UN

GENEVA: Work-related illnesses and injuries kill nearly two million people annually, largely due to long working hours, the UN said on Friday, warning that the pandemic was likely to worsen the situation, reports AFP.

The first-ever joint assessment by the UN’s health and labour agencies of the global disease and injury burden linked to jobs stretches from 2000 to 2016, so does not include the dramatic shifts in working conditions brought on by the Covid-19 crisis.

Some 1.9 million deaths worldwide were officially linked to work-related causes in 2016, up slightly from 1.7 million at the turn of the century, according to the report, which cautioned these were almost certainly underestimates.

Long working hours “are the single deadliest occupational risk factor” World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference in a video statement.

Exposure to long working hours, defined as working 55 hours a week or more, was deemed responsible for some 750,000 deaths in 2016, the report said.

In all, the study examines 19 occupational risk factors, including exposure to carcinogens like asbestos, ergonomic factors like prolonged sitting and manual handling of loads.

After long working hours, workplace exposure to gases, fumes and other air pollution was seen as the top risk, responsible for some 450,000 deaths in 2016.

“It’s shocking to see so many people literally being killed by their jobs,” Tedros said, describing the report as “a wake-up call to countries and businesses to improve and protect the health and safety of workers.”