Workplace accidents cost $2 billion in 2021 to companies

Workplace accidents cost $2 billion in 2021 to companies

During the past year, 513,857 work accidents were reported in Colombia, an average of 1,408 per day, according to estimates by the Colombian Security Council (CCS), entity that also calculates that the cost of work accidents in Colombia by 2021 can reach the approximate figure of $2 billion, and that this total can rise to about $5 billion including deaths from work-related causes.

(See: What is the future of work in Latin America?).

However, Adriana Solano Luque, president of the CCS, clarifies that “In Colombia there is no official estimate of the cost of work accidents, an international reference is taken as the basis. The United States National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that the cost of an accident, per worker, in 2019 was US$1,100, this includes the value of the goods or services that each worker must produce to offset the cost of workplace injuries”.

From that amount, the Colombian Security Council estimates the costs for the Colombian labor system.

According to the CCS, last year’s figures then showed a national rate of 4.76 accidents per 100 workers, higher than that of 2020, which was 4.45 per 100 employees.


The CCS delivered a balance of the figures for occupational accidents for 2021, and showed which are the economic sectors with the highest incidence of accidents at work. The highest accident rate in 2021 occurred in the case of agriculture, livestock, hunting and forestry, with a rate of 13.75 accidents per 100 workers, almost three times above the national rate. This is followed by mines and quarries, with a rate of 12.59 accidents per 100 workers.

The Security Council highlights that these sectors are usually among the most rugged in the country.

(See: Labor market in Colombia: is it recovering?).

The third sector with the highest accident rate is that of manufacturing industries, where an indicator of 7.7 accidents per 100 employees is presented. In this branch there were 88,218 accidents in the year and together with the real estate sector with 86,012 accidents together represent 34% of the total registered.

The latter, on the contrary, it had an accident rate of 3.47 accidents for every 100 people working.

Among the sectors with the lowest rates are, on the other hand, the financial (0.92), education (1.35), public administration and defense (1.56) and domestic service (2.08).

Regarding the geographical distribution, Magdalena was the department that presented the highest accident rate, with 7.0 cases per 100 workers. According to the Colombian Safety Council, this department has ranked first in work accidents for the last three years.

They are followed by Antioquia and Caldas with a rate of 6.39 and 6.35, respectively. On the contrary, Vichada obtained the lowest rate with 1.54 accidents.

As for the number of total work accidents in the country, 52.3% of them are concentrated in Bogota and Antioquia, with 147,182 and 121,392 work accidents, respectively.


Another of the elements that the CCS presented in its 2021 balance has to do with occupational diseases.

For the past year, a total of 42,646 qualified illnesses, that is, an average of 117 per day.

This represents a decrease in the rate, which was 394.9 qualified illnesses per 100,000 workers, compared to the immediately previous year when it reached 503.6 per 100,000 workers.

(See: Why is it more difficult for women to get out of unemployment?).

It should be noted that Decree 676 of 2020 determined covid-19 as a direct occupational disease, especially for workers in the health sector. For this reason, it can be inferred that this disease could be highly represented in the total number of cases of occupational disease in Colombia.”, clarified Adriana Solano Duque in this regard.

Decree 676 of 2020 determined covid-19 as a direct occupational disease.

Mauricio Moreno, Weather

According to the president of the CCS, a detailed review of the distribution of work-related illnesses by economic activities found that the category of ‘social and health services’ presented the highest rate of work-related illnesses, with 3,696 qualifying illnesses per 100,000 workers.

In turn, this was the sector that reported the highest number of events, with 28,141 cases, which corresponds to 66% of the total reported during 2021.

Other sectors with the highest rates were mines and quarries (257.96 per 100,000 workers), agriculture and livestock (224.96) and manufacturing industries (220.35) .

The CCS also highlighted that during 2021 there was an increase of 3.5% in the number of total average workers affiliated with the General System of Occupational Risks (SGRL) compared to the same period in 2019. It went from 10.43 million to 10.79 million. The comparison was made on a biennial basis given the levels of unemployment that were generated in 2020 as a result of covid.

(See: What are the labor challenges for the next government?).

The Colombian Security Council indicated that there was also an increase of 26.2% in the number of independent workers and 1.6% in dependent workers affiliated with the SGRL compared to 2019.


Another of the statistics provided by the entity was that in 2021, at the national level, there were 608 deaths of workers (472 due to work accident and 136 due to occupational disease).

This implies a rate of 5.63 deaths per 100,000 workers, higher than that of 2020 when it stood at 4.48.

At this point, the CCS warned about the increase in deaths for a reason related to the work environment.

The total number of deaths had not been recorded since 2016. It is noteworthy that the number of deaths due to occupational disease increased by 92% compared to the previous year, while deaths due to work accidents grew by 23%.Solana said.

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