Estimating the economic costs of occupational injuries and illnesses in developing countries: Essential information for decision-makers

This advocacy report attempts to identify the elements which should be taken into account in determining the cost of occupational accidents and diseases at the national level, with a focus on developing countries. The aim is to help countries identify the economic costs of not improving workplace safety and health – to employers, to workers and to society as a whole – and to inform decision-makers of the net costs of policies presented to them.

Few studies have been done on the economic burden of occupational accidents and diseases to a country (as opposed to an enterprise). Where they have been done, it is in industrialized market economy countries. The report therefore analyses what has been achieved in the way of economic research in relation to occupational safety and health outcomes in developed countries, and what factors and methodologies have to be taken into account to get an idea of the costs to the national economy. It looks at the challenges in obtaining credible numbers of occupational accidents and diseases and the associated costs. It goes on to describe the sampling requirements that need to be met to be able to determine estimates of rates of occupational injury and diseases and costs in a country.

The overall idea is to raise awareness among policy-makers and decision-makers and facilitate policy integration by making the linkages between occupational safety and health and other policy interventions and to raise safety and health at work into the mainstream of the development agenda.