Global occupational health: Current challenges and the need for urgent action

Roberto G. Lucchini, Leslie London

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background Global occupational health and safety (OHS) is strictly linked to the dynamics of economic globalization. As the global market is increasing, the gap between developed and underdeveloped countries, occupational diseases, and injuries affect a vast number of workers worldwide. Global OHS issues also become local in developed countries due to many factors, including untrained migrant workers in the informal sector, construction, and agriculture. Objective To identify the current status and challenges of global occupational health and safety and the needs for preventive action. Findings Absence of OHS infrastructure amplifies the devastating consequences of infectious outbreaks like the Ebola pandemic and tuberculosis. Interventions in global OHS are urgently needed at various levels:Increased governmental funding is needed for international organizations like the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization to face the increasing demand for policies, guidance, and training.Regulations to ban and control dangerous products are needed to avoid the transfer of hazardous production to developing countries.The OHS community must address global OHS issues through advocacy, position papers, public statements, technical and ethical guidelines, and by encouraging access of OHS professionals from the developing countries to leadership positions in professional and academic societies.Research, education, and training of OHS professionals, workers, unions and employers are needed to address global OHS issues and their local impact.Consumers also can influence significantly the adoption of OHS practices by demanding the protection of workers who are producing he goods that are sold in the global market. Conclusions Following the equation of maximized profits prompted by the inhibition of OHS is an old practice that has proven to cause significant costs to societies in the developed world. It is now an urgent priority to stop this process and promote a harmonized global market where the health of workers is guaranteed in the global perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-256
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Global Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2014


  • ethics
  • globalization
  • inequality
  • occupational health
  • social and global impact


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