Jukka Takala

President, International Commission on Occupational Health, ICOH

Current Position:

Adjunct Professor, Tampere University, Finland


President, International Commission on Occupational Health, ICOH


Doctorate of Science, DSc

Licentiate of Science

Master of Science,

Professional Experience:

Private metalworking factory, designer, Finland (FIN) 1969-1970

Helsinki University of Technology, Assistant Lecturer, FIN, 1970-73,

Ministry of Social Affairs & Health, FIN, inspector, Chief of Bureau, 1973-78 and Deputy Head of Department, 1981-1983,

International Labour Organisation, Chief Technical Adviser, Kenya 1978-81, Thailand 1983-1986, Chief of OSH Information Centre, CIS, Geneva 1986-1996, Chief of Safety and Health Branch, Geneva 1996-1999, Director of ILO Global SafeWork Programme, Geneva 1999-2006,

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, EU-OSHA, Director 2006-11

Workplace Safety and Health Institute, Ministry of Manpower, Singapore, Founding Executive Director and later Senior Consultant, 2011-18

Adjunct Professor, Tampere University, Health Sciences,FIN, 2018-

Special Honor

Commander of the Most Noble Order of the King of Thailand, 1986

Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Royal College of Physicians, Ireland, 2017,

Dr. Irvin Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award, 2018, ADAO, United States of America


Work-related Non-communicable and Communicable Diseases and Injuries in Asia and Globally

Over the years, developed countries have done well to reduce occupational injuries caused by accidents despite having an increasingly complex environment. Work-related diseases are more complicated to measure as no global statistics are available. However, ILO Estimates over the years show an increasing trend. Globally, when populations in various regions gradually extend their life expectancy, and work-life expectancy, many of the short-term workplace problems will be gradually reduced. Poverty reduction cuts back short-term consequences but these are replaced by more long term and long latency diseases and disorders. This can be seen easily in emerging economies such as those in Asia, South East Asia and Western Pacific Regions.

Materials and Methods

Review of employment figures, mortality rates, occupational burden of diseases and injuries, reported accidents, surveys on self-reported occupational illnesses and injuries, attributable fractions and economic cost estimates of work related injuries and ill-health, published scientific papers, documents, and electronic data sources of international, regional and national organizations, in particular ILO, WHO, and of related national institutions, agencies, and public websites.

New and Emerging Data and Knowledge

Globally, the ILO has estimated that 2.78 million workers die annually from causes related to work. Of these work-related diseases account for 2.4 million (86.3%) of the deaths and 380,000 deaths (13.7%) from occupational accidents . In addition, some 374 million non-fatal accidents take place, and 123 million Disability Adjusted Life Years, DALYs are lost due to work-related injuries, diseases and disorders annually. The work-related mortality in Taiwan follows roughly the pattern of countries in Western Pacific while due to different level of development and exposures in selected disease groups result in lower death numbers. For example, the level of deaths of injuries caused by occupational accidents in Western Pacific Region (WHO classification) including China is clearly higher than in Taiwan. According to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Disease and Injury, GBD 2019 the occupational particulates caused some 970 fatal cases in Taiwan (https://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare/) while asbestos toll was 395. Injury numbers were 501 deaths by GBD 2019 and according to ILO 2017 it was 835 deaths . The number of work-related communicable diseases and deaths is low, and no work-related Covid-19 death cases were expected in 2020. The overall picture is the same as in the whole Western Pacific Region and globally: occupational injuries cause a small fraction of all work-related deaths. This rate goes gradually down when the economies are progressing from 13.7% globally to y 2.4% in the High Income Economies (World Bank Region).

However, death rates only is not a sufficient indicator. Work-related disabilities and disorders as measured by DALYs provide a more comprehensive picture. Mental health caused by psychosocial factors at work and musculoskeletal disorders have a major impact on the economic costs of missing protective measures at work amounting to 3.9% loss of global Gross Domestic Product when only looking the tangible and production losses.

1 ILO Director General Guy Ryder, ILO/ISSA Congress in Singapore 2017, https://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/how-the-ilo-works/ilo-director-general/statements-and-speeches/WCMS_639102/lang--en/index.htm

2 This is an estimate based on average Western Pacific Region data.