International News

Cost of work-related incidents and illnesses: International comparison
New estimates from an international project show that global work-related accidents and illnesses are considerable: the global cost at EUR 2,680 billion (A$4,267 billion), which is 3.9 per cent of global GDP. The costs in the EU are at least EUR 476 billion (A$758 billion) every year. The cost of work-related cancers alone amounts to EUR 119.5 billion (A$190.3 billion).

The calculations are based on the current figures of the ILO and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The IHME data are updated annually by the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project, most recently for the year 2015.  This page is interesting and data for individual countries, including Australia, can be accessed.

The summary of the main results and the full report are now available in several languages. Read an article in English [pdf] with the main findings of the project and the summary – both are available in 25 EU languages from this page.

Europe: Chemical authorisations process is very unsafe
Europe's system of 'socio-economic' cost-benefit calculations for authorising hazardous chemicals is so biased in favour of industry only one has been refused, according to a new report. ChemSec, a non-profit advocating for safer alternatives to toxic chemicals, warns that an exemptions system included in the REACH chemical registration process has "become the back door for companies in order to continue their use of hazardous chemicals." It adds that only a single authorisation has ever been denied by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) during the twelve years of REACH.

 'Lost at SEA', ChemSec's new report, examines how the socio-economic analyses (SEAs) supposed to take account of health as well as economic factors are performed. "As part of the application process, the company is tasked with providing a socio-economic analysis. But since the burden of proof lies on the company itself to provide this information, it makes for a very one-sided analysis," it notes. It adds: "The company needs to demonstrate that the societal benefits of continued use are greater than the risks, and according to the company applying for an authorisation, this is of course always the case." It says 'soft values' such as human health and protection of the environment do not fit into the equation and are mostly ignored. "The methodology has obvious limitations since human health and the environment in general are priceless. This is why it's important to be very clear about what has been included in the analysis and what has been left out," commented Frida Hök, senior policy adviser at ChemSec. The group cites the example of shiny lipstick cases which, for decorative purposes, are often produced with the cancer-causing chemical chromium trioxide. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) "went on to recommend the continued use of it just so that society can continue to enjoy this decorative feature. This really begs the question of just how important it is that lipstick cases are shiny, and whether this really can be labelled as beneficial for society."
Read more: ChemSec news release, related release and full report, Lost at SEA, March 2019. Source: Risks 888

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