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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – May 19, 2003: Worker Safety - 2003-05-18

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

A new report by the International Labor Organization says about two-million people a year die from accidents and diseases linked to their jobs. That is more than five-thousand people every day. The victims include twelve-thousand children killed each year at work. The labor agency estimates that job-related injuries, diseases and deaths cost the world economy more than one-million-million dollars a year.

The International Labor Organization is part of the United Nations.

The report estimates that each year about two-hundred-seventy-million people suffer accidents on the job. Also, about one-hundred-sixty million cases of work-related sickness are reported. The agency says most work-related accidents and diseases could be prevented if international safety rules were followed.

Jukka Takala heads the Safe Work Program for the International Labor Organization. He says work-related deaths, accidents and diseases have dropped in industrialized nations. This is because better prevention efforts and emergency services are in place. In addition, Mister Takala says many of the most dangerous jobs have been exported from industrialized nations to developing countries.

The riskiest jobs in poor nations are in leading industries like farming, fishing and mining. The International Labor Organization says a lack of safety training and poor reading skills lead to high death rates. Many workers die from fires or from being around dangerous materials. Chemicals and other harmful substances kill three-hundred-forty-thousand workers a year.

Mister Takala says the causes of job-related deaths differ around the world. In Southeast Asia and China, for example, accidents are the biggest cause of death. In southern Africa and India, however, a big cause of work-related deaths are diseases caused in many cases by dirty conditions and spread from one worker to another.

Internationally, almost one-third of all work-related deaths are caused by cancer. Mister Takala says most of these cases are in industrialized nations. The causes include chemicals and dangerous substances like asbestos and even cigarette smoke in the workplace.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.