Make safe and healthy work a fundamental right

This International Workers’ Memorial Day, unions will be pressing the campaign to make health and safety at work a fundamental principle and right

11 Feb 2022| News

International Workers Memorial Day is held every year on the 28th April. It is an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured, or made unwell by their work.

“It’s a no-brainer. Every working person should know that they have the right to expect that everything is done to keep them safe at work.

We demand that the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopts occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work. It’s as important as freedom of association and the elimination of forced labour, child labour and discrimination in employment,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Three years have passed since the ILO Centenary Conference agreed that this would be done. In that time around 8.1 million people have died as a result of their work, and even more now live with life-altering injuries and illnesses because their employer did not protect them.

Sharan Burrow continued: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated beyond doubt that working people can’t wait for this any longer. Workplace deaths are preventable deaths and the latest figures show that a worker dies at least once every ten seconds. By doing this the ILO will be making a start on cutting this appalling toll of death and injuries.“

More than a fundamental right

The ITUC and its affiliates are calling on governments to take action by:

  •  ratifying and implementing core ILO health and safety conventions;
  •  ratifying and implementing all sectoral or hazard-specific conventions;
  •  establishing national health and safety bodies bringing unions and employer representatives together;
  •  requiring occupational health services for all, and proper compensation including making Covid-19 a recognised occupational disease.

“Employers must take responsibility for assessing and eradicating risks in their workplaces and in their supply chains, and consulting unions on prevention through workplace health and safety committees.

“And we need the ILO to do more and address challenges like stress at work, musculo-skeletal disorders and a convention on biological hazards like Covid-19. It is urgent that Covid-19 is recognised for the workplace threat that it is. Health and safety should be the first priority at work, not an occasional after thought,” concluded Sharan Burrow.

Originally published on the ITUC website here.