According to an estimate released from U.N. agencies on Friday showed that nearly 2 million people die from work-related causes each year including diseases related to long working hours and air pollution.
In the study conducted by the World Health Organization and International Labour Organization, in the first assessment of its kind, it was found that the deaths of 1.9 million people in 2016 were caused due to work-related diseases and injuries.
“It’s shocking to see so many people literally being killed by their jobs,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, saying he hoped the report would be a “wake-up call”.
Around 19 occupational risk factors including long working hours were considered in the study including workplace exposure to air pollution, asthmagens, carcinogens and noise. An uneven number of work-related deaths occurred in workers in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, in males especially in those over 54 years of age was found in the study.
The study is based on earlier WHO findings that long working hours were killing approximately 745,000 people a year through strokes and heart conditions. A further report released on Friday found that another big workplace killer was exposure to air pollution caused due to gases and fumes, as well as tiny particles associated with industrial emissions.
The report found, air pollution was responsible for the deaths of 450,000 in 2016 and 360,000 people were killed due to injuries.
On the positive side, the amount of work-related deaths relative to population fell by 14% between 2000 and 2016, the report found, adding that this might reflect improvements in workplace health and safety.
However, it also said that the work-related burden of disease was probably “substantially larger” than estimated.
Frank Pega, WHO technical officer, said that other deaths including those from rising heat related to global climate change weren’t currently included, and nor were communicable diseases like COVID-19.