This study provides an overview of the influence of occupational risk factors on the global burden of disease as estimated by the occupational component of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2016 study.
The GBD 2016 study estimated the burden in terms of deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) arising from the effects of occupational risk factors (carcinogens; asthmagens; particulate matter, gases and fumes (PMGF); secondhand smoke (SHS); noise; ergonomic risk factors for low back pain; risk factors for injury). A population attributable fraction (PAF) approach was used for most risk factors.
In 2016, globally, an estimated 1.53 (95% uncertainty interval 1.39–1.68) million deaths and 76.1 (66.3–86.3) million DALYs were attributable to the included occupational risk factors, accounting for 2.8% of deaths and 3.2% of DALYs from all causes. Most deaths were attributable to PMGF, carcinogens (particularly asbestos), injury risk factors and SHS. Most DALYs were attributable to injury risk factors and ergonomic exposures. Men and persons 55 years or older were most affected. PAFs ranged from 26.8% for low back pain from ergonomic risk factors and 19.6% for hearing loss from noise to 3.4% for carcinogens. DALYs per capita were highest in Oceania, Southeast Asia and Central sub-Saharan Africa. On a per capita basis, between 1990 and 2016 there was an overall decrease of about 31% in deaths and 25% in DALYs.
Occupational exposures continue to cause an important health burden worldwide, justifying the need for ongoing prevention and control initiatives.