The world’s health and safety day is held every 28th April. This day has been observed from the year 2003 by the International Labor Organization. This day has been previously celebrated by World Trade Unions Movement and was used in commemoration of victims who suffered from occupational diseases and accidents since statistics show that about 2m persons are losing their lives as a result of work related accidents and disease.
This year’s world health and safety day celebration theme is a call by ILO for an urgent action towards building of a preventive culture in lieu to safety and health in the workplace. This aims at promoting rights at work, boosting social protection, and encouragement of decent employment opportunities and a strengthened dialogue in relation to work related issues. The world health and safety day is thus not a public holiday but an observance day.
The Director General of ILO Guy Ryder who took office on the first day of October the year 2012 uses the world safety and health day to bring to fore the responsibility held by each one in making sure the safety, decency and health of a work environment lies within us. According to Ryder ILO is charged with issues surrounding jobs, fight against poverty, equality and social protection. To this end Ryder expressed his desire for ILO inclusion in addressing global difficult situations that may affect economies and agendas on a national level.
The ILO cites recession and pressure to maximize profits as not justification enough for jeopardizing the workplace safety. According to the ILO database, $2.8 trillion is lot annually due to production interruptions, occupational injuries and disease treatments, lost work days, rehabilitating injured/killed workers together with/or their families. Therefore Ryder wishes to turn the human rights into a reality in all workplaces for every worker. He believes prevention pays, if good governance on occupation safety and health is observed. According to Ryder, the culture of prevention in regard to occupational safety and health surrounds four tenets, namely;
- Respecting the right to safety and healthy working environment at all levels in a workplace.
- All stakeholders taking an active role in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace
- Prioritizing the principle of prevention
- Defining rights , duties and responsibilities
How to ensure a culture of prevention takes hold
A culture of prevention can be cemented if the many partners are engaged including governments, employers, workers, specialist, as well as experts. Therefore having a meaningful dialogue between these groups, would ensure a consensus is reached which would be a means to building democratic involvement. Ryder thus proposes that occupational safety and health achievements to be consolidated in the prevention tenet. He further adds that if good partnerships are forged, progress would be accelerated in the direction of constructing a global culture of prevention.
Key to this progress however is raising the awareness and knowledge regarding risks and hazards and how to control or prevent the same. To support this agenda, the ILO has launched a safe day campaign which is meant to heighten the awareness, support stakeholders as well as secure greater engagement with the people.
According to the ILO report, the psycho social risk and related stress has grown. Work related stress which is harmful to a worker both physically and emotionally is caused by imbalances between the perceived resources, and the demands, and the ability of an individual in dealing with these demands. Thus if the demands made on a worker do not match the capabilities, resources and the needs, the work related stress is bound to occur. Psychosocial hazards are cited as the workplace factors that bring about this kind of stress. These hazards as defined by the ILO in the year 1984, are interactions in the workplace, job contentment, conditions at the organization and the worker’s needs, capacity, culture, and other factors that affect job satisfaction and health work performance either through perceptions or experience.
ILO future actions
The ILO is charged with heightening recognition that the psychosocial hazards at workplaces are the cause of work related stress and mental health impairments to individuals. This should be included in policies and legislations. To this effect, the ILO should support for occupational stress to be recognized as work related. Further, a push to incorporate the psychosocial hazards into risk assessment as well as management measure is recommended. To culminate it all, a push to have the adoption of a collective preventive measures in the workplace environment.