Since the start of the One Percent Safer movement, we have set our sights on helping to reduce the annual total of people killed by their employment by just a single percentage point. To make clear the enormity of the ambition behind such a seemingly small-scale aim, we have always highlighted the impact that would have in numbers of lives saved each year: around 28,000 people would be spared. That is one percent of the 2.78 million work-related deaths calculated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and announced at the World Safety Congress in Singapore in 2017.
That 28,000 is a figure we have restated and restated because of the shocking size of it but also because we believe it is possible to make inroads into that number and save lives.
Now the total has gone up again. The ILO’s revised estimates, published at the end of last year, are that 2.93 million people died from work-related causes in 2019, the year before the One Percent Safer project and book was launched. So now our one percent has risen to just over 29,000 people a year, an increase of around 5% on the previous estimate.
The rise probably reflects a continuing increase in the size of the global workforce in the years to 2019 and it may also be partly down to more accurate counting in some countries as their central accident reporting systems evolve. We are not so much interested in the statistical underpinning as in the fact that a higher total makes out work to reduce it even more critical.
As a charity we have recently approved a second set of international bursaries for safety and health professionals working in low-wage economies and funded the appointment of a safety adviser for start-up bakery and brick making businesses run by an NGO in Ethiopia.
This is one of the ways we try to contribute to that one percent reduction, by using funds from donors, ambassador organisations and from sales of the One Percent Safer book. Another is through the book itself, which contains superb advice from the leading thinkers and practitioners in health and safety on how to better protect employees.
If you don’t own a copy, buy it today and see how you could ensure that your organisation does not contribute to that shameful 2.93 million total.