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Work-related deaths kill nearly 2 million people a year: UN agencies By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO A logo was taken at Geneva’s World Health Organization building on February 2, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse//File Photo


GENEVA (Reuters) – Nearly 2 million people die from work-related causes each year, including from illnesses associated with long working hours and air pollution, an estimate from U.N. agencies showed on Friday.

A study conducted by the World Health Organization/International Labour Organization was the first of its kind and found that work-related illnesses and injuries caused the death of nearly 2 million people in 2016.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was the WHO’s director-general and said it was “shocking” to observe so many people “being killed by their jobs.” He also expressed his hope that the WHO report would act as a “wakeup call”.

It examines 19 occupational risks, including work hours, noise, and exposure to carcinogens.

The study showed that workers from Southeast Asia and Western Pacific were at higher risk of death due to work. It also included males over the age of 54 and those with a history of lung disease.

This study expands on previous WHO research that found long hours of work were responsible for approximately 750,000 deaths each year due to strokes or heart disease.

On Friday’s report was a more comprehensive one. It found that exposure to pollutants such as fumes and gases, along with tiny particles from industrial emissions, is another major workplace killer.

The report revealed that air pollution caused 450,000 deaths worldwide in 2016. Three60,000 victims died from injuries.

The report noted that the ratio of deaths at work to the population decreased by 14% over 2000-2016. This may be due to improvements in safety and health in the workplace.

It also stated that the burden of work-related diseases was likely to be “substantially higher” than originally thought.

Frank Pega (WHO technical officer) stated that there were no other deaths due to rising temperatures and climate change. Also, COVID-19 was not included.

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