World health report

Conquering suffering, enriching humanity

Occupational and other risks

The figures seem like the casualties of a major war: at least 200 000 killed, more than 120 million injured. However, these losses occur not on a battlefield but in the workplace. They are only part of the much wider impact of health hazards at work. The links between alcohol and work injury are of rising concern. There may be up to 160 million cases a year of occupational diseases stemming from exposure to chemical, biological and physical agents, and other environmental hazards. Surveys show increasing exposure to psychological stress at work.

There are of course also hazards at home: among unintentional injuries falls kill more people than anything except traffic accidents, and most falls occur at home, as do most deaths from burning. Most injuries at home are sustained by children under five and elderly women. Those at highest risk from road accidents are motorcycle riders; head injury is a major cause of death and permanent disability, the risk of which can be markedly reduced through the use of crash helmets.