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Disparities in death at work: reflections on occupational injury fatality data
  1. Alex Collie
  1. School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Alex Collie, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia; alex.collie{at}

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Despite many advances in workplace health and safety globally, worker death at work or from work remains an unfortunately common occurrence, and an enormous public health challenge on a global scale. The most recent global estimates, produced jointly by the WHO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), show that the number of worker fatalities from occupational traumatic injury has not shifted this century. The WHO and ILO estimate a total of 363 283 acute occupational injury fatalities in 2016.1 These are a subset of the total estimated 1.9 million annual worker deaths from occupational exposures.1 The main causes of these fatal injuries are road injury, poisoning, drowning, falls, fire and heat, firearms, animal contact and other unintentional injury. There have been large decreases since 2000 for some mechanisms, for example, in drowning (20.7%), carbon monoxide poisoning (49.1%), falls (4.9%) and pedestrian road injuries (8.4%). These have been offset by increases in road injury deaths, for example, motor vehicle (13.4%), cyclist deaths (10.1%) and motorcyclist (14.8%). However, the overall number of deaths has not substantially changed. At the turn of the century, other authors estimated a total of 360 000 fatal occupational injuries.2 This plateau in mortality from …

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  • Contributors AC is the sole author of the commentary.

  • Funding Author AC is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (FT190100218).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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