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2.3-M workers die due to work-related illness

Around 2.3 million workers worldwide die annually from occupational-related sickness or injuries, according to latest estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO).

More than half or 1.4 million of these incidents are recorded in the Asia-Pacific region particularly in the low- and middle-income countries of the region.

“This means the region accounted for 70 per cent of the global fatal occupational accidents and 60 per cent of the work-related fatal diseases,” ILO Senior Specialist in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) for Asia Dr Francisco Santos-O’Connor said in a statement during the celebration of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work yesterday.

The Geneva-based labor arm of the United Nations, however, fears there could still be more workers succumbed or suffering from workplace afflictions in Asia-Pacific region since such incidents remain underreported in the said area.

“In fact, no country reports all work-related diseases. Even countries with well-established reporting practices often do not report all cases, particularly non-fatal injuries or occupational diseases,” O’Connor said.

“Therefore, official figures provide only a partial assessment of the situation which to date can be only estimated,” he added.

In an interview, ILO project coordinator for Safeyouth@work project Katherine Brimon said this problem is also apparent in the country, where data on the occupational injuries and diseases is only conducted by the Philippine Statistic Authority (PSA) through its Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment (ISLE) every two years.

While the ISLE contains dis-aggregated data on the kinds of work-related afflictions in varying industries in the country, it covers 8,399 establishments with 20 or more workers in 69 industry groups.

Brimon said this limited data on the issue puts the country’s occupational safety and health (OSH) regulation at a disadvantage.

“Safety and health is very much based on facts. A country cannot come up with good policies and programs if it cannot generate accurate data,” Brimon said.

To help address this problem, ILO is now supporting the country in improving its data gathering capacity through its Safeyouth@work project. (Samuel Medenilla)