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Social Protection

Building social protection floors and comprehensive social security systems

Employment Injury


Employment injury benefit schemes, providing benefits in cash and in kind in cases of work-related accidents and occupational disease, constitute the oldest branch of social security in many countries. These schemes were established to address one of the key challenges in modern workplaces. As a corollary of their responsibility to ensure working conditions that secure the occupational safety and health of their workers, employers are responsible for ensuring fair, equitable, and effective compensation of workers and access to necessary health care (covering medical and allied care services and goods, including rehabilitation) in cases of injury or occupational disease. In the event of death, this responsibility extends to providing compensation to workers' survivors to cover the loss of income suffered as a consequence of an accident or occupational disease.


The ILO has estimated that, worldwide, more than 2.3 million people die from work-related accidents or diseases each year. Employment injuries and work-related diseases cause the deaths of 6,300 workers per day around the world, the majority of these deaths occurring in low-income countries.

Currently, there are 34 developing countries that have no employment injury insurance system. Worldwide, only 34 per cent of the labour force is covered by employment injury laws through mandatory social insurance. If voluntary social insurance coverage and employer liability provisions are included, 39 per cent of the labour force is covered by law. In practice, actual access to employment injury protection is even lower, largely owing to incomplete enforcement of legislation in many countries.

Low employment injury compensation coverage rates in many low- and middle-income countries point to an urgent need to enhance working conditions with respect to occupational safety and health, as well as improving employment injury coverage for all workers, including those in the informal economy. As more countries move from employer liability as the basis for employment injury protection to a mechanism based on social insurance, levels of protection for workers are likely to improve. However, effective coverage will increase only if the new laws are effectively enforced.

See how the Workers Compensation Fund in Tanzania was established in July 2015 with ILO support



A new publication called "Employment injury protection eastern and Southern African Countries", has been launched at the SASPEN conference during the month of October. This study seeks to review the provision of employment injury protection schemes in selected Eastern and Southern African countries. This is in order to fill the knowledge gap as regards the situation on employment injury and compensation in the Eastern and Southern African region.


The Rana Plaza catastrophe in Bangladesh in April 2013 was a wake-up call for the industry, not only in Bangladesh, but also in other countries. This accident, which took the lives of more than 1,100 workers and injured more than 2,500 others, suddenly made people realize that many workers today still do not have adequate protection in case of work injury to provide for health care, rehabilitation services, and loss of earnings.


Employment injury protection: distribution by type of programme, 2012-13