Occupational Injuries: Regulations, Notification and Costs
International Labour Organization
About 374 million occupational accidents occur annually; many of these resulting in long absences from work. Even if the data are not very accurate on the national level, it is clear that in many countries the problem requires more decisive action from the public authorities.
DefinitionsOccupational injuries are defined as any personal injury, disease or death resulting from an occupational accident. An occupational injury is therefore distinct from an occupational disease, which is a disease contracted as a result of an exposure over a period of time to risk factors arising from work activity.An occupational accident is an unexpected and unplanned occurrence, including acts of violence, arising out of or in connection with work. Occupational accidents also include travel, transport or road traffic accidents in which workers are injured and which arise out of or in the course of work, i.e. while engaged in an economic activity, or at work, or carrying on the business of the employer.
Relevant laws and regulationsNational laws or regulations on Occupational Health and Safety in many countries provide for:
- the reporting of occupational accidents and diseases to the appropriate authority within a prescribed time
- standard procedures for reporting and investigating fatal and serious accidents, as well as dangerous occurrences
- the compilation and publication of statistics on accidents, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences.
“One example; Tanzania;”“Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2003 (No. 5). (§ 90(1)(d));“
Employers are required to keep a register describing, inter alia, the occupational accidents and cases of occupational disease occurring at the factory or workplace in which notice was required to be sent to the Chief Inspector.Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2003 (No. 5). (§§ 101(1)(a),(c);90(1)(d),(2));
Employers have a duty to notify the Chief Inspector about each incident occurring at the workplace where any person dies, becomes unconscious, suffers the loss of a limb or part of a limb, or is otherwise injured or becomes ill from occupational disease to such a degree that he or she is likely either to die or suffer a permanent physical defect or is likely to be unable either to work or to continue with the activity for which he or she was employed or is usually employed for a period of a least fourteen days (§ 101(1)(a)).Employers are obliged to also report near misses to the Chief Inspector. Such near misses include incidents where the health or safety of any person was endangered and where a dangerous substance was spilled (§ 101(1)(c).Employers are required to keep a register describing, inter alia, the occupational diseases occurring in the workplace in which notice was required to be sent to the Chief inspector. The owner of a factory or workplace is responsible for submitting such extracts from the register to an inspector as they may require for the purpose of executing his or her duties under the OHS Act (§ 90(1)(d),(2)).”
Notification of occupational injuries
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Occupational Health in Developing Countries
The cost of occupational injuriesWorldwide, hazardous conditions in the workplace were responsible for a minimum of 312,000 fatal unintentional occupational injuries. Together, fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries resulted in about 10.5 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs); that is, about 3.5 years of healthy life are lost per 1,000 workers every year globally. Occupational risk factors are responsible for 8.8% of the global burden of mortality due to unintentional injuries and 8.1% of DALYs due to this outcome. (The Global Burden Due to Occupational Injury; Concha-Barrientos et.al., Am J Ind Med 48:470–481, 2005).Economic costs of work-related injury and illness vary between 1.8 and 6.0% of GDP in country estimates, the average being 4% according to the ILO. (Global Estimates of the Burden of Injury and Illness at Work in 2012, Takala et.al., J Occup Envir Hyg, 11: 326–337, 2014).The direct and indirect costs of work-related accidents and ill-health have been extensively researched and documented in recent years. This has clearly demonstrated the great economic burden that such accidents and ill-health place on individuals, enterprises, families and on society in general (Figure 1 in the link below).Takala et.al., Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 11: 326–337, 2014Occupational accidents not only cause great pain, suffering and death to victims, but also to their dependants. Occupational accidents also result in:
- loss of skilled and unskilled but experienced labour
- material loss, i.e. damage to machinery and equipment as well as spoiled products
- costs of medical care, payment of compensation and repairing or replacing damaged machinery and equipment.
Occupational Health in Developing Countries
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