India’s high occupational fatality and illness rate was the subject of a meeting held last month in New Delhi aimed at identifying and developing solutions for key obstacles to improved workplace safety.

UL’s Integrated Health and Safety Institute (IHSI), in partnership with UL’s Public Safety Office in India, convened the gathering of representatives from the pharmaceutical, petroleum, power, and construction industries, along with Indian government officials. IHSI is a not-for-profit institute dedicated to advancing the integration of workplace health and safety programs.

"Staggering cost" to economy

“Workplace safety is an escalating concern for many leading organizations in India, not only out of a sense of empathy arising from disabilities and loss of life, but due to the staggering cost to the Indian economy,” said Todd Hohn, IHSI’s global director. “The country suffers a loss of at least 4 percent of its annual GDP to workplace related accidents and injuries.”

India has the second highest number of deaths and injuries in the world resulting from workplace related accidents and illnesses. Without fundamental change, the number of workplace safety incidents will continue rising as the country’s workforce is projected to expand by 8 to 9 million people annually for the next five years, according to International Labour Organization estimates.

Attendees conceded that many companies fail to recognize the full economic impact of their lapses in safety, resulting in inadequate safety regulations and little effort to determine the primary causes of workplace incidents. The conclusion: proactive research would help organizations make informed decisions to enhance safety in the workplace.

IHSI is conducting research, developing effective training material and assisting in the creation and implementation of better standards for workplace health and safety. Key works from IHSI, including the Standard for Integrating Health and Safety in the Workplace and the Integrated Health and Safety Index, help organizations make informed decisions to enhance safety in workplaces and reduce the number of safety and health incidents.

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