Poor occupational health and safety conditions lead to 250 million injuries, 335,000 fatalities and 60 to 150 million occupational diseases, resulting in 1.2 million work-related deaths per year. Such conditions cost approximately 4 to 5% of the total GDP of countries. These figures, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO) or the World Health Organization (WHO), constitute an enormous and unnecessary economic cost and loss in health and suffering. Despite substantial advances in occupational health and safety, working conditions for most people in the world do not meet the minimum standards of the ILO and WHO. The health of the worker has a profound influence on productivity. China provides a concrete example: the estimated economic loss due to silicosis alone has been calculated for 1986. It has been estimated that the 310,000 cases resulted in yearly economic losses of Y 5 billion, which, when using the market value of Chinese currency, the yuan, would represent approximately 0.4% of China’s GDP at the time. Most of the cost comes from indirect economic losses due to reduced productivity, reduced profit of the enterprise and reduced earnings. This represents a very large drag on the economy. The cost of providing universal occupational health services has been estimated at approximately 0.4% of the world’s total GDP, one tenth of the amount lost every year to occupational injury and illness. Therefore, the economics of occupational health and safety strongly favor good practices and protecting the health of workers.
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