Occupational safety and health

Nearly 3 million people die of work-related accidents and diseases

The ILO also estimates that 395 million workers worldwide sustained non-fatal work injuries.

Press release | 26 November 2023
© JD Ligier / Shasta-Trinity National Forest
GENEVA (ILO News) – Nearly three million workers die every year due to work-related accidents and diseases, an increase of more than 5 per cent compared to 2015, according to new ILO estimates. The toll underscores the persistent challenges in safeguarding the health and safety of workers, globally.

Most of these work-related fatalities, totalling 2.6 million deaths, stem from work-related diseases. Work accidents account for an additional 330,000 deaths, according to the analysis. Circulatory diseases, malignant neoplasms and respiratory diseases rank among the top three causes of work-related death. Together, these three categories contribute more than three-quarters of total work-related mortality.

The new data, included in the new ILO report, A Call for Safer and Healthier Working Environments, will be presented at the 23rd World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, one of the largest international conferences on this subject, that will take place in Sydney, Australia, 27–30 November.

The report underlines that more men die from work-related incidents (51.4 per 100,000 working age adults) compared to women (17.2 per 100,000). The Asia and the Pacific region has the highest work-related mortality (63 per cent of the global total) because of the size of the region’s workforce.

Agriculture, construction, forestry and fishing and manufacturing are the most hazardous sectors, accounting for 200,000 fatal injuries per year, which represents 63 per cent of all fatal occupational injuries. In particular, one-in-three fatal occupational injuries worldwide occur among agricultural workers, the report says.

To boost global efforts to ensure a safe and healthy work environment, the ILO has introduced a new plan, the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health for 2024-2030. The goal is to prioritize the well-being of workers in line with the ILO's dedication to social justice and the promotion of decent work worldwide.

The strategy encourages ILO Members to act on three pillars.
  • First, improve national Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) frameworks by enhancing governance, promoting reliable data, and building competency.
  • Second, strengthen coordination, partnerships and investment in OSH at national and global levels.
  • Third, enhance workplace OSH management systems by promoting ILO-OSH 2001 principles, developing gender-transformative guidance, and tailoring it to specific hazards, risks, sectors, and occupations.