Lagos - The International Labour Oganisation (ILO) says two million workers die annually due to work-related incidents.
The organisation disclosed this in a news statement signed by its Director-General, Guy Ryder and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Thursday.
NAN reports that Ryder said this ahead of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work which will be commemorated on April 28.
Ryder called for an urgent global campaign to tackle the problem.
He said that occupational diseases kill six times more people than accidents, saying that accidents however attracted greater attention.
"Of the estimated 2.34 million annual work-related deaths, the vast majority (approximately 2.02 million) are due to work-related diseases.
"This represents a daily average of 5,500 deaths. About 160 million cases of non-fatal work-related diseases occur annually," he said.
It said that technological and social changes, along with global economic conditions, were aggravating existing health hazards and creating new risks.
The Director-General said that well-known occupational diseases such as pneumoconiosis and asbestos-related diseases remained widespread.
He said that new occupational diseases such as Mental and Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) were also on the rise.
Ryder said that occupational diseases carry an enormous cost for workers and their families as well as for economic and social development.
The ILO official said that occupational accidents and diseases result in an annual four per cent loss in global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or about N420 trillion (2.8 trillion dollars) in direct and indirect costs of injuries and diseases.
He said that it was regrettable that a number of occupation-related diseases impoverish workers and their families and could undermine communities when they lose their most productive workers.
"Where social protection is weak or absent, many workers as well as their families lack the care and support they need.
"Prevention is the key to tackling the burden of occupational diseases, and is more effective and less costly than treatment and rehabilitation,’’ he said.
Ryder however called for a paradigm of prevention with comprehensive and coherent action targeting occupational diseases, not only injuries.