Preventing occupational accidents

Minimizing occupational accidents
Reducing employment injuries
Cutting work-related accidents
Increasing worker safety
Improving industrial safety standards
Protecting labour conditions
Instituting labour safety standards

Developing and ensuring compliance with a system of technological, psychological, hygienic and legal measures aimed at providing working conditions that are not harmful to human life and physical and mental health. Labour protection consists primarily of legal requirements by which industries must meet certain safety requirements and technical standards.


An occupational accident is one which takes place while work is being carried out. They may be fatal, result in permanent disablement, either complete or partial, or most commonly cause only temporary disablement. The contraction of certain types of disease, the presence of which may not be detected until long after the causative occupation has been left, is another form of occupational "accident". Occupational accidents cause suffering to the victim and the family, as well as costing humanity lost wages, productive work-time, medical expenses, damage to property and administration costs.

Often, however, only those accidents serious enough to require more than first-aid treatment and absence from work, prolonged invalidity or death are included in statistics (if published), so that their true occurrence is significantly higher. The extent of occupational accidents and injuries varies widely over countries, industries and time periods, as also do the legislative provisions for the regulation of industrial processes and the installation of safety devices.

Globally, about 180 severe occupational accidents have occurred in different countries over the last two decades killing some 8,000 people, injuring over 20,000 and displacing hundreds of thousands. Accidents in crowded cities in the developing world, such as those in Mexico City and Bhopal, India, in 1984, have caused the most casualties. Such disasters are becoming more frequent. The rate of fatal accidents in the developing countries has doubled or even trebled, whilst in the USA the frequency rate for disabling injuries increased 81% from 1961 to 1976.

The location of industries and the environmental/human impacts of small-scale industries and the new technologies are receiving growing attention.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends support for the development of systems to monitor the incidence and cause of injury leading to well-targeted intervention/prevention strategies.


Faced with a rising toll of occupational-related death, injury and sickness, the International Labour Office (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) mark April 28th, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, by highlighting the need for a preventative safety culture worldwide.

Improving the health of workers has led the ILO and WHO to cooperate closely on occupational safety and health issues. WHO helps countries to implement preventive strategies with a network of 70 Collaborating Centres, based on its Global Strategy on Occupation Health for All.

ILO published a manual on major hazard control in 1988 and a Code of Practice on the Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents in 1991. The ILO Convention and Recommendation on the Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents were adopted in 1993.


Working people have the right to protection from undue physical and psychological risk in their jobs.


Counter Claim:

The evolution of labour safety standards are more costly than offsetting progressive increases in productivity cripples the development of industry.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth