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Work-related deaths rising worldwide, says UN agency

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GENEVA, Sept 18 (AFP) - At least 2.2 million people die of work-related accidents and diseases around the world each year, the UN's International Labour Organisation said in a report to be released on Monday, adding that the estimate was 10 percent higher than two years earlier.

Releasing a wide-ranging report in advance of a conference on health and safety opening in the United States, the ILO said the true figures for killed and injured were certainly higher, due to poor data collection in many countries.

The number of work-related illnesses and deaths had slightly decreased in industrialised nations but the number of accidents -- particuarly fatal ones - appears to be increasing, notably in some Asian countries, the report said.

A trend, the ILO found, was due to "the rapid development and strong competitive pressures of globalisation".

"Occupationnal safety and health is vital to the dignity of work," said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.

"Still every day on average, some 5,000 or more women and men around the world lose their lives because of work-related accidents and illness. Decent work must be safe work, and we are a long way from achieving that goal," the director-general warned.

The report also confirmed that while work-related illnesses are the main concern in industrialised economies, accidents are more common in developing nations where workers in sectors such as mining, construction and farming are particuarly at risk.

Men are in danger of dying at working age (below 65) largely due to accidents, lung diseases, cancer or asbestos poisoning.

Women, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer from work-related communicable diseases and long-term musculo-skeletal disorders.

The report was to be released at the 17th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in the US city of Orlando, Florida, which runs to September 22.



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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