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Call to Tackle High Cost of Workplace Illness

27 April 2005

Call to Tackle High Cost of Workplace Illness

Employers must take responsibility to tackle the hidden hazards that leave
thousands of workers suffering from occupational disease, Council of Trade
Unions president Ross Wilson said today.

Workers around the country will mark international Workers’ Memorial Day
tomorrow, remembering those who lost their lives while at work or who died
as a result of workplace injury or disease.

The report of the National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee
estimated 700 -1,000 deaths each year from occupational disease,
particularly cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease.

Around 17,000 to 20,000 new cases of work-related disease are also reported
each year.

“This represents a huge cost to workers’ health, to employers in lost
productivity, and to the community,” Ross Wilson said. “The report
estimates the total cost over a year of work-related disease and injury is
between $4.3 billion and $8.7 billion.

“The cost of having a safe and healthy workplace is nothing compared to the
cost - in terms of both money and health - of allowing workers to become
sick, injured or killed on the job.”

Workplaces must get heath and safety systems in place which involve workers,
as is required under the law, he said.

“The involvement and commitment of workers and management is the key to
overcoming our dismal statistics of occupational disease,” Ross Wilson said.


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