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Successes and failures in occupational injury prevention
  1. Jorma Saari
  1. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Laajaniityntie 1, Fin-01620 Vantaa, Finland

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    Occupational accidents are a major health hazard. According to International Labor Office, injuries killed 335 000 people at work in 1994.1 The good news is that there is a declining trend of fatal accidents in most industrialized countries. For too many, injuries are, however, like a fringe “benefit”. If one gets a job, one also has to accept the risk of being killed or seriously injured at work.

    Another element of good news is that the best companies have reduced their injury rates to very low levels. Especially the petrochemical industry, which has improved its safety performance in an outstanding manner. Many other industries are also putting serious efforts into promoting safety. For example, the steel industry recently published a book guiding steel companies towards “accident free production”.2

    Ethical issues are also receiving more attention in the global business world. Several events during the past two years have shown that many people mistrust global corporations. The business world counteracts positively by emphasizing ethical principles. Occupational injuries or other ill health arising from work are not deemed acceptable if a company claims to be following high ethical standards.

    Many people may not believe in voluntary ethical standards. In safety, we too often have to accept the good results of voluntary efforts. And, to be fair, at least some companies have excellent safety practices. For example, the chemical industry has been using the global “Responsible Care” program and this has lead to many examples of …

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