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Fatal occupational injuries policy position

Summary

Fatal injuries at work have a significant human, social and economic cost, negatively affecting workers and their families, organisations of all sizes, local communities and wider society. Governmental and corporate action is needed to prevent them and to ensure that all work is safe and healthy.

Tragically, over a third of a million lives are lost globally to fatal work-related injuries each year. Increased awareness and more effective controls are urgently needed to protect workers worldwide. This requires strong leadership, worker involvement and OSH capacity-building, underpinned by effective OSH regulatory regimes.

The facts

  • The 2017 Global estimates of occupational accidents and work-related illnesses report, highlights that there are more than 380,000 fatal occupational accidents each year. Globally, 1,000 people are estimated to die every day due to occupational accidents.
  • According to the ILO, the human cost of occupational injuries and illnesses is vast and the economic burden of poor OSH practices is estimated at 3.94 per cent of the world’s GDP.
  • Recent figures from the ILO Vision Zero Fund estimate that 60% of the world’s labour force is ineffectively protected against work-related accidents and illnesses.
  • According to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) every year there are over 3 million accidents at work in the European Union, with 4,000 of them fatal.
  • An OSH barometer from EU-OSHA determined the EU average for fatal accidents as 1.85 accidents per 100,000 employees in the period 2010-2017.
  • Preventing occupational injuries is recognised in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development target 8.8 to promote safe and secure working environments for all workers; and target 3.6 to halve the number of global deaths from road traffic accidents.

Our position

Fatal injuries at work have a significant human, social and economic cost, negatively affecting workers and their families, organisations of all sizes, local communities and wider society. Governmental and corporate action is needed to prevent them and to ensure that all work is safe and healthy.

Though there has been some progress to improve safety over the decades, through technological advances and safer plant, equipment and procedures, tragically, over a third of a million lives are lost globally to fatal work-related injuries each year. Increased awareness and more effective controls are urgently needed to protect workers worldwide.

IOSH encourages a holistic approach to preventing deaths due to occupational injuries through multi-faceted governmental and corporate prevention strategies. These include engineering controls, protective equipment and technologies, management commitment and investment in safety, education and training programmes, and national awareness campaigns and regulation. IOSH supports the ISSA Vison Zero campaign, a prevention strategy for safety, health and wellbeing at all levels of work, co-developing a training package, which IOSH will deliver. 

IOSH promotes safe work and workplaces in which no lives are lost. This requires strong leadership, worker involvement and OSH capacity-building, underpinned by effective OSH regulatory regimes. All fatal injuries and near misses need to be properly investigated, immediate and root causes identified, and prompt remedial action taken. Contributing factors, such as excessive hours and fatigue, inadequate training, resources and supervision, occupational road risk, and poor corporate culture, must be addressed.

IOSH resources

  • Competency framework supports OSH professionals in advising on prevention and delivering incident management, investigation and reporting strategies.
  • IOSH has a wide training portfolio that helps to create safe and healthy places of work.
  • IOSH published a white paper ‘Tackling modern slavery together’ which calls on governments, employers and the public to fight against modern slavery.
  • Our 2017-2022 strategy, WORK 2022, sets out how we can help decision-makers to prevent work-related injury and ill health.

IOSH collaborations

  • IOSH is partnering the Vision Zero initiative that aims to prevent physical and mental harm to the global workforce, with Vision Zero training
  • IOSH is a co-founder of the Center for Safety & Health and Sustainability network that advances safety, health and sustainability at work.
  • IOSH works with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to support the health and safety of global infrastructure projects.
  • IOSH has an MoU with Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations aimed at enhanced workforce protection and OSH capacity-building.
  • IOSH is part of the international scientific committee of WOSNET (Working on Safety) aimed at helping prevent accidents at work.

IOSH-commissioned research

  • ‘Representing miners in arrangements for safety and health in coal mining: a global perspective’, research investigates worker representation on OSH in coal mining in Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia and South Africa.
  • ‘Improving designers’ knowledge of hazards’ study focuses on how building designs can be modified to be safer to build, while retaining their design, known as Designing for OSH (DfOSH).
  • ‘Fatal collisions on the road’ report discusses how narrative data from coronial road traffic fatalities (RTF) are utilised to assess the extent of underestimation of work-related RTFs in official data systems.

Relevant IOSH consultation responses

  • IOSH response to the European Commission consultation on A renewed trade policy for a stronger Europe – Consultation note, 2020.
  • IOSH response to the Global Reporting Initiative Global Sustainability Standards Board consultation on its draft work programme and universal standards, 2020. [available on request]
  • IOSH response to review of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, European Commission, 2020 [available on request]
  • IOSH response to EBRD Environment and Social Policy Consultation. 2018.
  • IOSH response to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills call for views of the Non-financial reporting Directive, 2016
  • IOSH comments on the European Commission public consultation on Non-binding guidelines for reporting of non-financial information by companies, 2016
  • IOSH response to the Center for Safety and Health and Sustainability ‘The Accounting Revolution and the New Sustainability: implications for the OSH profession, 2015 [available on request]