Around 115 million of the world’s 215 million child labourers do hazardous work and there is an urgent need for action to halt this practice, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said in a report launched in Geneva Friday.
The report, ‘Children in hazardous work: what we know, what we need to do’ stated that every minute of every day, a child labourer somewhere in the world suffers a work-related accident, illness or psychological trauma.
While the largest number of children in hazardous work is in Asia and the Pacific, the largest proportion of children in hazardous work relative to the overall number of children in the region is in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said.
‘Over 60 percent of children in hazardous work are boys. Hazardous work is more commonly found in agriculture, including fishing, forestry, livestock-herding and aquaculture, in addition to subsistence and commercial farming,’ it stated.The report said that although the overall number of children aged 5 to 17 in hazardous work declined between 2004 and 2008, the number aged 15-17 actually increased by 20
percent during the same period — from 52 million to 62 million.
One of the findings of the study revealed that the problem of children in hazardous work was not confined to developing countries but there was a high vulnerability of youth to workplace accidents in the US and Europe.
‘Despite important progress over the last decade, the number of children in child labour worldwide, and particularly in hazardous work, remains high,’ ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said on the launch of the report.
The report also said exposure to hazards can have a particularly severe impact on children, whose bodies and minds are still developing late into teenage years.
It looks in detail at six economic sectors which are crop agriculture, fishing, domestic service, mining and quarrying, and street and service industries.
World Day Against Child Labour is observed June 12 every year.