More than half of child labourers work in hazardous conditions

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 14 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3727
  1. John Zarocostas
  1. 1Geneva

Millions of child labourers worldwide, especially those engaged in hazardous work, face grave health risks that have been systematically under-reported, says a study.

Children are more likely to be killed or injured at work than adults, says the report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), launched on 1 June at its annual ministerial conference. Children are at risk of health problems ranging from lung damage and cancers to premature arthritis through exposure to extreme toxic chemicals, harsh settings, and repetitive tasks.

The ILO’s director general, Juan Somavia, called for joint action by governments, employers, and workers to protect children. “Tackling work that jeopardises the safety, health, or morals of children must be a common and urgent priority,” he said.

The report highlights the high proportion of children still involved in hazardous work: about 115 million of the world’s estimated 215 million child labourers. In …

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