Are Workers Unimportant, Expendable?
Work is three times as deadly as war, says UN
It's the 21st century, and unsafe conditions for labor persist, and even grow worse. If workplace safety is not a worldwide priority, what does that say about our civilization and our so-called leaders? This article originally appeared in the Guardian (UK).
by Andrew OsbornIt's official: not only can work be fatal, according to a United Nations report, it brings about more death and suffering than wars or drug and alcohol abuse combined.
More than two million people die from work-related accidents or disease every year -- equivalent to one death every 15 seconds -- the UN's International Labour Organisation said this week. Two years ago, the figure was just 1.2 million.
The ILO named agriculture, construction and mining as the three most dangerous occupations in the world.
The total is now three times the annual average number of deaths in wars every year (650,000), or the equivalent of a September 11 tragedy every day. It also exceeds deaths from alcohol and drug abuse combined.
The ILO said exposure to dust, chemicals, noise and radiation was causing cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Some 350,000 people died from fatal workplace accidents every year, and hazardous workplace substances claimed 340,000 lives. Asbestos was responsible for 100,000 deaths.
The ILO accused wealthy countries of exporting the problem.
"Industrialised countries are exporting their hazards to developing countries," said the ILO's Jukka Takala. Problems had been "moved to the South, where labour is not only cheaper but less protected", she said.
May 6, 2002
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