Most human adults spend more of their waking time in a work setting than they do in their domestic environment. In developing countries, this is sadly often true of children as well. The working environment frequently holds special health risks. These risks are often exacerbated by foreign technology for which developing-country labourers are often ill prepared either socio-culturally or intellectually. Mechanization and processes using toxic chemicals are examples of such technology. The very nature of the work can also produce environmental health risks, for example the association of physical injury with manual occupations and mental stress with certain professional occupations.
Short-term maximization of profits often means minimizing costs. A consequence of this is that the occupational risks to workers are assigned very low priority. Many industries operate sophisticated production processes with obsolete or unsafe machinery. Skilled and experienced personnel to service and maintain equipment is often lacking. Spare parts are difficult to obtain. In many countries, the process for establishing standards and regulations to govern occupational health and safety in the workplace is either very recent or outmoded. Governments often lack adequate resources and technical capability to develop, implement, and sustain institutional and regulatory mechanisms to protect the well-being and health of workers.
[Developing countries] The industrialization of countries, necessary in order to raise the standard of living of their people, nevertheless results in occupational dangers which are more prevalent for their workers than for workers in industrialized countries. This is due to the pressures to increase production, which disregard the norms for hours of work, training of workers, guarding of machines, and provision of personal protective equipment. Non-observance of safety measures, resulting in accidents, is either taken as the normal outcome in industries or results in minor warnings or punishments which have no serious effect. Higher level management as well as the workers themselves do not realize that safety and production cannot be separated.