Every year more than 2 million people die from occupational accidents or work-related diseases. By conservative estimates by the ILO, there are 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million cases of occupational diseases each year. The safety of work varies enormously between countries, economic sectors and social groups. Deaths and injuries take a particularly heavy toll in developing nations, where large numbers of people are engaged in hazardous activities such as agriculture, construction, logging, fishing and mining. Throughout the world, the poorest and least protected – often women, children and migrants – are among the most affected. The ILO places special importance on developing and applying a preventative safety and health culture in workplaces worldwide.
In 2003, the ILO began to observe the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April, stressing the prevention of illness and accidents at work and capitalizing on its traditional strengths of tripartism and social dialogue. 28 April is also a day the world's trade union movement has long associated with commemorating victims of occupational accidents and diseases.
In the Caribbean, the ILO has provided technical assistance in the development of a CARICOM Model Law on Occupational Safety and Health and the Working Environment. The model law has influenced the new occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation in certain countries such as The Bahamas, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The ILO has also held training workshops to assist countries to strengthen their capacity with regards to OSH.
The ILO continues to provide support for the development and maintenance of a safety and health culture by strengthening the national OSH system through promotion and advocacy activities, and technical assistance. In January 2011, the ILO initiated the ILO Programme on Occupational Safety and Health and Environment in the Caribbean. The Programme aims to support governments, employers' and workers' organizations in their efforts to improve occupational safety and health at the enterprise and national levels, and contribute to the environmental sustainability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).