Work-Related Injuries, Illnesses Claim Millions of Lives, Dollars Yearly

The OSHC stated that the fatalities/deaths of workers incurred the highest economic loss amounting to P8 million ($200,000), followed by Temporary Total Disability with P2 million ($50,000).

The amount incurred by medical treatment/first aid cases was estimated at P514, 040.25 ($12,851.00), read the OSHC data. The said amounts were computed on the prevailing exchange rate that year.

Stress and AIDS: two threats in the workplace

More than 50 percent of workers in industrialized countries complain today about stress in the workplace. Job stress and overwork have been associated with sleep disturbance and depression.

“There is enough scientific evidence to suggest that prolonged exposure to job stress is associated with several types of chronic health problems, including cardiovascular diseases, particularly hypertension, and musculoskeletal and psychological disorders. In the USA, for example, expenditure on health care is nearly 50 percent greater for workers who report high levels of stress at work,” the experts say.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS also poses a grave threat on the health of workers throughout the world, especially those who are working overseas.

According to the UN AIDS official report, in 2007 there were about 33 million people who are in living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and majority of them are in their prime years.

“HIV/AIDS is a major threat to the world of work: it is affecting the most productive segment of the labor force and reducing earnings, and it is imposing huge costs on enterprises in all sectors through declining productivity, increasing labor costs and loss of skills and experience. In addition, HIV and AIDS is affecting fundamental rights at work, particularly with respect to discrimination and stigmatization aimed at workers and people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. The pandemic and its impact strike hardest at vulnerable groups including women and children, thereby increasing existing gender inequalities and exacerbating the problem of child labor,” the ILO declared through its AIDS Program.

OSH: problems and issues

Meanwhile, the WHO and the ILO admit, evaluating the global burden of occupational diseases and injuries is difficult.

Reliable information for most developing countries is scarce, mainly due to under-diagnosis and serious limitations in the reporting systems, the experts said.

WHO estimates that in Latin America, for example, only between 1 and 4 percent of all occupational illnesses are reported.

According to WHO and ILO, there are two main problems common in many countries: (1) a certain unwillingness to recognize [the] occupational causes of injuries or health problems, and (2) failure to report them even when recognized.

“The history of occupational health has been that of a continuous struggle between workers fighting for protection or compensation and their employers seeking to deny or reduce their liability for work-related diseases and injuries. This conflict has greatly influenced statistical reporting. As a result, the burden of disease due to occupational exposures is usually underestimated,” read the WHO-ILO joint statement.

In the Philippines, DoLE-OSHC has admitted, there are seven main issues and problems concerning occupational health and safety that are being raised by the experts:

1. Low priority given to OSH concerns;
2. Lack of awareness and education on OSH;
3. Lack of trained OSH personnel;
4. Weak enforcement of OSH Standards;
5. Lack of OSH facilities in the regions;
6. Need to reinforce information and research clearing house mechanisms; and
7. Statistics on the Work Accident Prevention Program are not always reliable because there is a low rate of compliance, limited coverage, absence of strict penalties and fragmented OSH administration.

But the two international agencies are still hopeful that this trend will change in the near future.

“The existing trends in occupational health need and must be changed in the interests of both workers and employers. It will be done if the quest for higher productivity and cost–effectiveness go hand in hand with considerations of safety and health at work,” the WHO and the ILO stated. (

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  1. Dear Sir:

    Good Day! My husband had work related injury and been neglected from medical treatment after 139 days . How can you help us?

    So many seafarers have been deprived from medical treatment and claims, benefits?

    How can you help us?

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