The Workers’ Party has reacted with anger to new research which shows that workers in Northern Ireland are twice as likely to die at work than staff in other UK regions because of the high accident rate . According to the Report from the UK Audit office, in 2008/09 1.24 people were injured per 100,000 employees compared to 0.5 in Great Britain
According to spokesman, Paddy Lynn, “seven people lost their lives in work-related accidents here in 2009 and, although this represents a 60% reduction on the previous year, work-related injury, illness and death is something that the Stormont Coalition should find alarming. Moreover, this is not just a local problem.”
Mr Lynn went on to say that recent research from the International Labour Organisation shows the extent to which work-related death is a global epidemic with the figures, unfortunately, on the rise. “The research shows that around 6,000 workers die every day around the world as a result of accidents or illness in the workplace, which amounts to an estimated 2.2 million deaths every year from work-related accidents and diseases worldwide. That’s a bigger number than the entire population of Northern Ireland every year In economic terms this results in a loss of 4% of global GDP ($1.25 trillion US dollars),often by countries which are unable to afford it. ”
Mr Lynn went on to say that 350,000 (19%) of these deaths are due to accidents and 1,850,000 are due to occupational illnesses - cancer, circulatory diseases, respiratory diseases and communicable diseases. “On top of this litany of woes, every year there a further 264 million non-fatal work related accidents and illnesses”, Mr Lynn continued. Mr Lynn also stressed that many accidents and work-related illnesses and deaths are not reported, so the real situation may be even worse. “By comparison” Mr Lynn continued, “in 2008 a report to the US Congress found that the number of deaths around the world due to terrorist attacks was 15,765. How come they put so much money and effort into these crimes, but not into the much greater crime of work-related death and injury?”Mr Lynn asked.
In poorer countries work-related malaria and other communicable diseases as well as cancers caused by hazardous substances are taking a huge toll. The majority of the global workforce lacks legal or preventive safety or health measures, accident or illness compensation and has no access to occupational health services. “In line with ILO recommendations, the Workers’ Party calls on the governments in Dublin and Belfast to include health and safety targets and indicators of success in their national plans and implement more robust reporting systems”, Mr Lynn concluded.
The ILO Report, “Decent Work, Safe Work” can be found here
Issued: 8th September 2010