"The global economic impact of the failure to adequately invest in occupational safety and health is roughly equal to the total GDP of the poorest 130 countries in the world," International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder told nearly 3,500 participants during the opening ceremony at the XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work , in Singapore on 3 September.
The new global estimates on work-related illnesses and injuries represent 3.94 per cent of global GDP per year, or 2.99 trillion US dollars. In human lives that means 2.78 million workers continue to die each year from work-related injuries and illnesses - 2.4 million of these deaths can be attributed to work-related diseases alone. The figures announced today were developed by Finland, Singapore, the EU and the International Commission on Occupational Health, with the support of ILO.
The new figures point to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the global cost of failing to adequately address existing and emerging occupational safety and health (OSH) concerns, and to the importance of OSH to sustainable development. "Clearly there is a recognition that certain OSH challenges are global challenges that require global solutions," said Ryder.
Mr Ryder noted ILO's readiness to engage in the development of a global coalition with key partners in meeting these challenges, as proposed by Finnish Minister of Labour Pirkko Mattila, in a forum on the future of work.
As a co-organizer of the 2017 World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, ILO is addressing key challenges for the future of work and the implications for the safety and health of workers. During the four-day Congress the ILO will participate in symposia and technical sessions on the need for reliable OSH data, improving occupational safety and health in global supply chains, creating mechanisms for the exchange of OSH data, knowledge and expertise globally, and fostering proactive occupational safety and health compliance strategies at national level. Engagement of youth around the world will be key to addressing these challenges.
"How the future of work is forged will, of course, have the greatest impact on this and the next generation and they must have a voice in the process including on OSH," said Ryder in addressing Congress participants.
Youth and OSH is a key theme at the XXI World Congress and central to ILO's flagship Occupational Safety and Health-Global Action for Prevention Programme. "Forty million youth are entering the labour market this year and they are the best-educated generation the world has ever seen. We must take advantage of this demographic dividend and unleash the potential and creativity of these young people," said the head of the ILO.
As part of ILO's SafeYouth@Work project , some 125 Youth Champions from more than 29 countries are participating in a Youth Congress parallel to the World Congress. The SafeYouth@Work Congress seeks to build a corps of Youth Champions on OSH to address the significant workplace safety and health challenges faced by young workers. The Youth Congress will conclude with the development of prototype models for targeted tripartite efforts at country and regional level, for improving working conditions for young people.
The XXI World Congress, being held 2-6 September, is a tri-annual event jointly organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA), and is hosted this year by the Singapore Ministry of Manpower.