Optimise the collection and use of OSH data

portrait gemma collins doyle


EHS Consultant


This year the International Labour Organisation (ILO) will be focussing on how to optimise the collection and use of OSH data. World Day for Safety and Health at Work will take place on April 28th and this is the theme that will be highlighted. Back in 2015, the United Nations created a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This global plan of action has specific targets to end poverty, protect the environment and create abundance for everyone. With its implementation, the capacity to collect and use reliable OSH data has also become essential for all countries, to ensure their commitment to sustainable development goals and their targets. “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” United Nations Sustainable Development

Goal 8 in particular, provides for the promotion of “inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. It also looks at the “protection of labour rights and promotion of safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment”. Countries have been asked to focus and report on the following indicator: “Frequency rates of fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries, by sex and migrant status”

While the above is common place in most developed countries, this is not the case in many underprivileged or developing countries. It can be an onerous and challenging framework to implement. The following are just a few of the battles that are ahead of some of these countries:

  • Reporting is not inclusive in National legal frameworks, resulting in exclusion of certain branches of economy or certain types of workers
  • National systems of recording are not considered an integral part of occupational risk management
  • Diagnostic and recognition criteria for occupational diseases vary from country to country – the diagnosis of some diseases require expertise, which may not be available in some countries.
  • Responsibility for reporting and recording OSH data is sometimes divided among various different bodies, which in turn leads to incomplete or incorrect data. This then, cannot be used for global data collection.
  • Terminology, definition and classifications vary from country to country. Therefore data cannot be synchronised at country level, making it difficult to assess regional or global trends.


As data on work-related accidents and diseases is vital for prevention, there is a real need to improve recording and notification systems, as well as occupational safety and health (OSH) data collection and analysis at national level. This in turn will provide countries with more reliable indicators and help them to prioritise what OSH issues should receive the adequate resources to resolve them.

Without the reliable OSH data, it will not be possible to establish the real priorities for improving national workplace prevention programmes. In addition to national data, the global data will give a birds eye view of how we are doing from an international level and what we need to put in place and focus on to make the world a safer and healthier place to work in.

To fill the current gap in data and reporting and increase awareness on the seriousness of the problem, the ILO regularly publishes global estimates of occupational injuries and work related diseases. Current estimates show the following:

  • Work-related accidents causing injuries – 313 million
  • Work-related fatal accidents – 350,000
  • Occupational and work-related fatal diseases – 2 million
  • Work-related deaths – 2.35 million
  • Lost GDP on occupational accidents and diseases – 4%


Staggering figures, I’m sure you would agree. So, what is being done to help countries to get their reporting in order and setting up programmes to reduce these figures?

Currently the ILO provides guidance through a number of instruments and technical tools to support member states in improving recording and notification systems.

Thankfully in Ireland, we have legislation, systems and government bodies in place that ensure we collect and report all work-related injuries, fatalities and diseases. However, there is always room for improvement. OSH data is critical in ensuring we are ahead of the trend when it comes to protecting our employees every day and making this country is as safe as possible to work in. OSH data is no use to anyone, unless it is being analysed and actioned on as soon as possible. Make sure your company is up to date with Health and Safety legislation when it comes to reporting on work-related injuries, fatalities and diseases. Also, don’t forget the importance of reporting and analysing all near misses, safety should be proactive, not reactive.

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