Background Global estimates on work-related injuries and illnesses have been presented using the methodology of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, over the past 15-20 years. This work continues while further development of the methods and sources need attention.
Methods Occupational injury data from ILO member States are regularly collected while data is mainly received from developed countries or member States that have reasonably well developed systems. A large number of countries do not report their data to the ILO at all, or report only very limited data. Straightforward extrapolation of this data to the non-reporting countries would provide biassed results. Therefore, one or more proxy countries for representative regions were identified. Furthermore, the economic structure of each region and country have been used for adjusting the data. The baseline for the estimates was fatal injuries, which are better reported. These results were then used to estimate non-fatal accidents.
Work-related diseases have been estimated using the attributable fraction, AF-method. While such fractions are missing for most countries of the world, data from existing sources, mainly from developed countries, were adjusted for regions and countries lacking local data. Mortality data were taken from the World Health Organisation for each region. All known work-related risk factors and causes of death were taken into account. These included selected communicable diseases, carcinogens based on IARC 1 and 2A groups, cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases and disorders.
Results Based on 2010 and 2011 data 2.3 million deaths occurred annually for reasons attributed to work. Of these work related diseases counted close to 2 million deaths and the rest were fatal occupational injuries (accidents). The distribution of diseases in each WHO region varied considerably.
Conclusion The numbers are high and unlikely to be under-estimates for neither injuries nor most diseases.
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