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Workers in Atlanta and elsewhere are frequently exposed to toxic chemicals, hazardous substances, fumes, gases and vapors that increase their risk of developing an occupational disease. The International Labor Organization, an agency of the United Nations, recently released a report that called on employers worldwide to reduce health-care costs and boost productivity by preventing occupational illnesses.

Most workplace illnesses are the result of exposure to toxic substances or hazardous chemicals. The International Labor Organization urges employers, governments and health organizations to collaborate in an effort to reduce the risk to workers from toxic substances. The report was released in time for World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 2.34 million people die annually from work-related accidents and disease, with most – 2.02 million – resulting from a wide range of workplace-related diseases. The organization also estimates that 160 million cases of nonfatal work-related diseases occur every year.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 207,500 U.S. workers contracted non-fatal occupational illnesses in 2011. The most common were respiratory conditions, hearing loss and skin diseases.

One of the biggest risks facing American workers is that of pneumoconiosis from exposure to silica, asbestos fibers and coal dust. Exposure to these substances can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung-related cancers, silica-tuberculosis and obstructive pulmonary disease. Workers in the construction and mining sectors may be at especially high risk for these occupational diseases from unsafe products.

Michael Parsons is an Atlanta workplace injury lawyer, representing injured workers in the metro Atlanta region and helping them recover the benefits that they deserve.

Source: ILO