In the 20th anniversary year of the massive Union Carbide factory gas leak that affected nearly 250,000 people in Bhopal, India, the United Nations labor agency Wednesday observed its annual "World Day for Safety and Health at Work" with a worldwide commemoration of those who lost life or health in workplace accidents.

The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) staged memorials, marches, symposia and talk shows across the globe, including a performance by the New York City Labour Choir at the Commission for Sustainable Development meeting at UN Headquarters. ILO estimates that more than two million people die from work-related causes every year, including some 22,000 children, 750,000 women and 1.5 million men.

"A safety culture must be nurtured through partnership and dialogue — governments, employers and workers within a framework of rights, responsibilities and duties, finding common ground, creating safe and healthy work places," ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said in a message.

The December 1984 Bhopal accident, which drew increased attention to ways of preventing industrial accidents, killed 2,500 people then and 20,000 people later, while injuring more than 200,000.