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Work-Related Accidents Increasing in Some Developing Countries

I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Health Report.

Work can be harmful to your health. Each year, more than two million people die from work-related accidents or diseases. Labor-related deaths represent four percent of all deaths around the world.

And here are some other estimates in a recent report from the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency:

About two hundred seventy million workplace accidents happen each year. In addition, there are about one hundred sixty million cases of work-related sicknesses. The most common include cancers, muscle and bone diseases, lung diseases, hearing loss and blood-flow disorders.

Dangerous substances are blamed for more than four hundred thousand deaths each year. Asbestos alone is responsible for an estimated one hundred thousand deaths. Asbestos is a material that can lead to lung cancer and other diseases.

Diseases cause most of the deaths among workers. But deadly accidents at work also appear to be increasing in some developing countries as their economies expand quickly. This is true especially in Latin America and Asia.

About seventeen percent of all deadly workplace accidents happen in the building industry. Each year at least sixty thousand people die in such accidents. Many workers come from poor areas. They have little experience with heavy machinery and little training in safety.

The farming industry employs half of all workers in the world. In most developing countries, farming is the biggest employer. The risks from agricultural work include the use of pesticides. These chemicals cause an estimated seventy thousand poisoning deaths each year. In addition, the most recent estimates show that at least seven million people get very sick but survive.

When workers suffer, so might their employers. The I.L.O. estimates that about four percent of world economic production is lost to job accidents.

Higher rates of job accidents are found among workers age fifteen to twenty-four and those age fifty-five and older. More people in those two age groups are expected to enter the workforce. So the International Labor Organization is calling for special programs to help younger and older workers stay safe on the job.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Cynthia Kirk. Our reports are on the Web at I'm Gwen Outen.