Worldwide work-related injury and illness result in the loss of 3.9 percent of GDP, at an annual cost of roughly EUR2,680 billion, according to new global estimates presented by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, EU-OSHA, together with the International Labour Organisation, ILO, at the XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, being held in Singapore on 3-6 September.
The estimates are findings from a major project on the costs and benefits of occupational safety and health, OSH. The project was carried out by the ILO, the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, FIOH, the WSH Institute in Singapore, the International Commission on Occupational Health, ICOH, and EU-OSHA.
The Director of EU-OSHA, Dr. Christa Sedlatschek, said, “Safe and healthy work is a fundamental human right but these new estimates of the costs of poor or non-existent OSH measures show that the economic case for OSH has never been stronger. Work-related ill-health and injury cost the European Union 3.3 per cent of its GDP. That’s EUR476 billion every year, which could be saved with the right occupational safety and health strategies, policies and practices.”
Good practice in OSH can help make businesses productive, competitive and sustainable, as well as reduce healthcare costs and other societal burdens. However, the costs of poor OSH are high for individuals, businesses and society. Through the costs and benefits project, EU-OSHA has taken steps to identify and evaluate the data that is available in the EU and worldwide to develop accurate and up-to-date estimates of the costs of work-related diseases and injuries.
According to further findings, work-related illnesses account for 86 per cent of all deaths related to work worldwide, and 98 percent of those in the EU. An estimated 123.3 million DALY (disability-adjusted life years) are lost globally, with 7.1 million in the EU alone, as a result of work-related injury and illness. Of these, 67.8 million (3.4 million in the EU) are accounted for by fatalities and 55.5 million (3.7 million in the EU) by disability.
In most European countries, work-related cancer accounts for the majority of costs (EUR119.5 billion or 0.81 percent of the EU’s GDP), with musculoskeletal disorders being the second largest contributor.