Burden of Injury due to Occupational Exposures

  • Jukka TakalaEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook Series in Occupational Health Sciences book series (HDBSOHS, volume 1)


Occupational injuries, also called occupational accidents, have existed as long as the humankind. Such injuries have often been considered to “go with the business.” Injuries are, however, not caused by a law of nature. They are preventable as has been demonstrated by best practices elsewhere. This chapter provides an overview of important global trends of occupational injuries, with data sources coming mostly from developed countries. Moreover, good policy and practice solutions are emphasized.

The best available data and numbers of injuries have been estimated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), based on thorough investigation. These findings indicate that, globally, the annual number of fatal occupational injuries is 380,000. This is composed mainly of an Asian burden of 250,000 deaths and 65,000 deaths in Africa, with only 10,760 deaths taking place in the high-income region. Occupational injury rates vary widely within and between regions, being highest in the riskiest sectors and occupations in less-developed countries. The average annual range between countries varies from 0.5/100,000 to 27.5/100,000. The range between the safest and most hazardous jobs annually varies between 0 and 500 deaths/100,000, the most hazardous jobs being in tropical logging. The estimated global cost of poor or non-existing safety and health measures has been estimated to be around 3 trillion USD, equivalent of 3.9% of the global GDP. Globally, the number of occupational injuries is still growing, despite successful reductions in the high-income regions. The human burden and economic price of occupational injuries are very high.


Occupational injuries Accident prevention Safety at work Costs Burden of injury Exposures to risks 


  1. ‘t Mannetje A, Pearce N (2005) Quantitative estimates of work-related deaths, diseases and injury in New Zealand. Scand J Work Environ Health 31(4):266–276. Scholar
  2. Driscoll T, Takala J, Steenland K, Corvalan C, Fingerhut M (2005) Review of estimates of the global burden of injury and illness due to occupational exposures. Am J Ind Med 48:491–502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Elsler D, Takala J, Remes J (2018) An international comparison of the cost or work-related accidents and illnesses. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Bilbao, Spain, Oct 2017. Accessed 10 Mar 2018
  4. Eurostat (2009) Statistics in focus 63, 2009. European Commission, Luxembourg 2009. Accessed 16 Nov 2016
  5. García AM, Merino RG, Martínez VL (2007) Estimación de la mortalidad atribuible a enfermedades laborales en España, 2004. Rev Esp Salud Pública 81(3):261–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. GBD 2016 Causes of Death Collaborators (2017) Global, regional, and national age-sex specific mortality for 264 causes of death, 1980–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet 390:1151–1210. Scholar
  7. Government of China (2014 and 2015) Statistical Communiqué of the People’s Republic of China on the 2013 National Economic and Social Development, item XII. Resources, Environment and Work Safety. National Bureau of Statistics of China. Accessed 29 Dec 2018
  8. Hämäläinen P (2010) Global estimates of occupational accidents and fatal work-related diseases. Doctoral dissertation, Publication 917, Tampere University of Technology, Finland. Accessed 30 Jan 2019
  9. Hämäläinen P, Takala J, Saarela KL (2006) Global estimates of occupational accidents. Saf Sci 44:137–156. Scholar
  10. Hämäläinen P, Takala J, Tan BK (2017) Global estimates of occupational accidents and work-related illnesses 2017. WSH Institute, Ministry of Manpower, ICOH et al. Accessed 28 Dec 2018
  11. HSE (2014) Health and safety executive, U.K. Based on EUROSTAT numbers referred by the HSE web page. Includes also latest data, see further Accessed 28 Dec 2018
  12. ILO (2017) Director-general guy ryder opening address at XXI World Congress on Safety and Health. World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, Singapore, 3–6 Sept 2017. Accessed 29 Dec 2018
  13. ILOSTAT (2018) Dataset on safety and health at work. International Labour Statistics, International Labour Organisation, Geneva. Accessed 28 Dec 2018
  14. Nenonen N, Saarela KL, Takala J, Kheng LG, Yong E, Ling LS, Manickam K, Hämäläinen P (2014) Global Estimates of Occupational Accidents and Work-related Illnesses 2014. Singapore: WSH Institute. 25Google Scholar
  15. Rosling H, Rosling O, Rosling Rönnlund A (2018) Factfulness. Flatiron Books, New York, pp 89–114. (Finnish version: Faktojen maailma, Otava, Finland, 2018. ISBN 978-951-1-30371-8)Google Scholar
  16. Takala J (1997) Occupational and major accidents. In: Brune D, Gerhardsson G, Crockford GW, D’Auria D (eds) The workplace, vol. 1: Part 4.2, Oslo, CIS/ILO. Scandinavian Science Publisher, Geneva, pp 228–243Google Scholar
  17. Takala J (1999) Global Estimates of Fatal Occupational Accidents. Epidemiology, 10, 640–646. Scholar
  18. Takala J (2005) ILO introductory report: decent work – safework. ILO introductory report, XVII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, Orlando. ISBN 92-2-117750-5. Accessed 15 Dec 2018
  19. Takala J, Hämäläinen P, Saarela KL, Loke YY, Manickam K, Tan WJ, Heng P, Tjong C, Lim GK, Lim S, Gan SL (2014) Global estimates of the burden of injury and illness at work in 2012. J Occup Environ Hyg 11:326–337. Scholar
  20. Takala J, Hämäläinen P, Nenonen N, Takahashi K, Chimed-Ochir O, Rantanen J (2017) Comparative analysis of the burden of injury and illness at work in selected countries and regions. Cen Eur J Occup Environ Med 23(1–2):7–31. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Commission on Occupational Health, ICOHRomeItaly

Personalised recommendations