National Safety Council Urges Employers to Address Workplace Illnesses

More than 50,000 workers are estimated to die each year from occupational illnesses.

The National Safety Council called on employers this Workers' Memorial Day, observed April 28, to better understand and identify the risks associated with occupational illnesses.

NSC stated workplace-related illnesses are estimated to result in 53,000 deaths and 427,000 nonfatal illnesses each year, compared to workplace-related injuries, which are estimated to result in almost 4,000 deaths and 4.8 million injured requiring medical attention annually.

"Workplace fatalities due to illness are estimated to be more than ten times that of deaths from workplace injuries," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of NSC. "On Workers' Memorial Day, the National Safety Council commits to helping employers prevent any future loss of life in honor of those whose lives were cut too short."

To better address workplace illnesses, the NSC has issued a new policy position that includes the following recommendations: consider the latest available scientific research, consensus standards, employer best practices and other reliable sources of information for determining the most effective control strategies; determine how to improve reporting and tracking of occupational illnesses to support better understanding, prioritization, progress measurement and research; and share information and practices on prevention of occupational illness including how to engage workers, gain their meaningful participation and provide them with necessary knowledge, skills and equipment to safely work with chemicals.

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