A team of researchers from Tampere University, Finland, and the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) in Italy has conducted a comprehensive study on global estimates of work-related diseases and occupational injuries. Their findings, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, reveal a concerning increase of 26% in work-related deaths from 2011 to 2019.

The study explores the burden of work-related diseases and injuries, emphasising the growing impact on years lost in full health and the economic loss as a percentage of GDP. In 2019 alone, 2.9 million deaths were attributed to work, with 2.58 million resulting from diseases and 0.32 million from occupational injuries.

Notably, work-related circulatory diseases accounted for the majority of global deaths (912,000), followed by 843,000 deaths attributed to work-related cancer. The economic loss associated with these issues reached 5.8% of the global GDP in 2019, with psychosocial factors contributing significantly to the overall loss.

While work-related deaths increased by 26%, disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) rose by 47%, reaching 180 million in 2019. This notable increase is attributed in part to the inclusion of psychosocial exposures at work.

Dr. Subas Neupane, Senior Research Fellow at Tampere University, commented:

The burden of work-related diseases is a major global health challenge. Updated estimates are needed to understand the trends in the work-related burden of diseases, working conditions and their impact on workers’ health as well as to identify where the current efforts fall short.

Dr. Subas Neupane, Senior Research Fellow at Tampere University

The researchers emphasise the substantial regional and country variation in the burden of work-related diseases, emphasising the imperative for sustained global initiatives.

This study provides a vital update on the global estimates of occupational injuries and work-related diseases over the past 25 years. The collaboration between Tampere University, ICOH, and the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health underscores the significance of addressing this major global health challenge.

For more information, refer to the published research article in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.