In June last year, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decided to include “a safe and healthy working environment” clause in its framework of fundamental principles and rights at work
According to the British Safety Council, 1.4 m workers suffered from a work-related illness in the year 2018/19. During the same period, 28.2 m working days were lost due to work-related illness and injury, and £9.8 bn was the cost from new cases of work-related illness.
As such, the ILO added the aforementioned clause, now referred to as fundamental conventions No. 155 and No. 187. The first convention has been ratified by 76 countries, while the latter was ratified by 59 countries. 39 countries ratified both these conventions.
To mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the ILO hosted an event to discuss how workplaces can practically implement this right in the world of work.
The web event consisted of panellists from various organisations such as Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Inter-African Occupational Risk Prevention, Federation of Belgian Enterprises, and American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFLCIO). They highlighted that occupational health cannot function independently from environmental health, and that social dialogue is important to increase worker safety.
Joaquim Pintado Nunes, OSH branch chief at ILO, said, “only 40% of all countries have implemented OSH policies.” Adding that the world has a long way to go in securing worker’s rights, Nunes said that “workers have a right to remove themselves from serious, harmful work without any retaliation” from the employer.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) tweeted that it encourages everyone to tackle slips, trips, and falls, which are the most common cause of injury at work. “On average, they cause 40% of all reported major injuries and have a huge impact on lives,” RoSPA said.
Meanwhile, Paulina Brandberg, Swedish minister for gender equality and working life, urged labour unions and governments to be gender sensitised and understand the gender inequality that exists in the world today, when framing laws and regulation. Owen Tudor, deputy secretary-general, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), urged other countries to ratify the conventions as well.