WHO / WORK-RELATED DISEASE INJURY

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17-Sep-2021 00:04:48
Work-related diseases and injuries were responsible for the deaths of 1.9 million people in 2016, according to the first joint estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO). WHO

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STORY: WHO / WORK-RELATED DISEASE INJURY
TRT: 4:40
SOURCE: WHO
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 17 SEPTEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1.Close up, WHO sign
2.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of WHO:
" Why this report? For many years, of course, the collaboration between WHO and ILO has been very fruitful and very close. But we were producing separate estimates. Then we decided by join expertise of ministers of health, ministers of labor and more than 220 individual experts, we could produce these joint estimates that we are presenting today, and we think that this is the first time that have been produced. And not only that, they represent the most comprehensive set of official estimates of work-related burden of diseases to date."
3.Wide shot, press room
4.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of WHO:
"The occupational risk factors have caused almost 2 million deaths globally in 2016. This is a terrible figure because, as mentioned already, many of those deaths could be prevented. If we go to the details now, in these 2 million deaths, we can tell you that 80 percent of those work-related deaths are caused by diseases meaning that all of those diseases being non-communicable diseases."
5.Wide shot, press room
6.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of WHO:
" Almost two thirds of those deaths are due to three pairs of occupational risk factors and health outcome, one they were caused by occupational exposure to air pollution, resulting in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that was responsible for 450000 deaths. Exposure to long working hours and stroke was responsible for 400000 deaths and exposure to long working hours, causing ischemic heart disease was responsible for 346000 deaths. Therefore, the single largest risk factor is exposure to long working hours. This is a fundamental change in what we are founding in these new estimates. "
7.Wide shot, press room
8.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Maria Neira, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of WHO:
" The work-related burden of diseases, we know that it is disproportionately carried by people living in Africa, no surprise, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific, is carried by males and by older people. "
9.Wide shot, press room
10.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Frank Pega, Technical Officer, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of WHO:
" Africa, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific are most affected. And within these regions, we can also say that low and middle income countries are more effective than high income countries. And I think this points to your question also on more disadvantaged workers, specifically informal economy workers. So this is certainly part of the epidemiological explanation of why we see a larger burden in these regions and then in low and middle income countries within the regions. So, informal economy workers probably work in jobs that have less protection and therefore are exposed to more occupational risk factors. "
11.Wide shot, press room
12.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Frank Pega, Technical Officer, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of WHO:
" Long working hours are now the single biggest occupational risk factor, and we only established this 3 months ago. So with our estimates in 2021, unbelievable indeed, we found the largest risk factor for work-related burden of disease. This completely changes our thinking of where the risk is and where we need to focus our action on. In that regard, I want to highlight exactly as you said, long working hours have been increasing as a response to COVID national lockdowns. We know that about 10% more people now work in long working hours or working time has increased by 10% across North America, Europe and the Middle East from a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. "
13.Wide shot, press room
14.SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Frank Pega, Technical Officer, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health of WHO:
" Convention one of the ILO was there to limit the number of working hours to a healthy limit, and this is 120 years almost later, I think, that we are sitting here. We have the first estimates of how many people die as a result of overwork and long working hours. So that really revolutionizes also our understanding of work-related burden of disease. One risk factor responsible for one third of the total burden and we only find it in 2021. For an epidemiologist, this is unbelievable. "
15.Close up, WHO sign

STORYLINE:

Work-related diseases and injuries were responsible for the deaths of 1.9 million people in 2016, according to the first joint estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO).

According to the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury, 2000-2016: Global Monitoring Report, the majority of work-related deaths were due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

Non-communicable diseases accounted for 81 per cent of the deaths. The greatest causes of deaths were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (450,000 deaths); stroke (400,000 deaths) and ischaemic heart disease (350,000 deaths). Occupational injuries caused 19 per cent of deaths (360,000 deaths).

The study considers 19 occupational risk factors, including exposure to long working hours and workplace exposure to air pollution, asthmagens, carcinogens, ergonomic risk factors, and noise. The key risk was exposure to long working hours – linked to approximately 750,000 deaths. Workplace exposure to air pollution (particulate matter, gases and fumes) was responsible for 450,000 deaths.

Work-related diseases and injuries strain health systems, reduce productivity and can have a catastrophic impact on household incomes, the report warns.

Globally, work-related deaths per population fell by 14 per cent between 2000 and 2016. This may reflect improvements in workplace health and safety, the report says. However, deaths from heart disease and stroke associated with exposure to long working hours rose by 41 and 19 per cent respectively. This reflects an increasing trend in this relatively new and psychosocial occupational risk factor.

This first WHO/ILO joint global monitoring report will enable policy makers to track work-related health loss at country, regional and global levels. This allows for more focused scoping, planning, costing, implementation and evaluation of appropriate interventions to improve workers’ population health and health equity. The report shows that more action is needed to ensure healthier, safer, more resilient and more socially just workplaces, with a central role played by workplace health promotion and occupational health services.

Each risk factor has a unique set of preventive actions, which are outlined in the monitoring report to guide governments, in consultation with employers and workers. For example, the prevention of exposure to long working hours requires agreement on healthy maximum limits on working time. To reduce workplace exposure to air pollution, dust control, ventilation, and personal protective equipment is recommended.

"The occupational risk factors have caused almost 2 million deaths globally in 2016. This is a terrible figure because, as mentioned already, many of those deaths could be prevented,” said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at WHO.

A disproportionately large number of work-related deaths occur in workers in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, and males and people aged over 54 years.

The report notes that total work-related burden of disease is likely substantially larger, as health loss from several other occupational risk factors must still be quantified in the future. Moreover, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will add another dimension to this burden to be captured in future estimates.

In May 2021, WHO and ILO released the first ever study that quantified the burdens of heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours (i.e., 750,000 deaths). This study established long working hours as the risk factor with the largest work-related disease burden.
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