IndustriALL’s manual for health and safety activists is a resource for union health and safety activists, particularly those who are just starting out. The manual, written by IndustriALL’s health and safety director Brian Kohler, provides an overview of basic structures and programmes that workers need to understand when fighting for safer and healthier workplaces.
What is the biggest challenge to health and safety in the workplace?
“The biggest challenge is to understand that health and safety at work is neither a perk to be bargained for nor a favour to be asked. It is our right.
“No wage is worth our health or our life, and no remedy can be granted by an arbitrator that will restore our health or our life, once it is lost.”
Is there a quick fix?
“If there is a quick fix, I have not found it in over 40 years of health and safety activism! Our rights are never granted easily, they must always be won by activism and determination. Indeed, every right that we now enjoy followed, and never preceded, the demands and determination and activism of people.
“There is no silver bullet; a safe and healthy workplace is the result of ongoing effort and attention.”
What is IndustriALL’s role in promoting health and safety in the workplace?
“IndustriALL can support union activists in their struggle by providing a framework for understanding occupational health and safety from a trade union point of view. Safe and healthy workplaces are the result of effective and overlapping safety systems: materials, tools, equipment, workplace environment, management priorities, policies, programmes, work procedures – and of course people.
“All of these must be designed, tested, educated or trained to be as safe and healthy as possible.”
How do we stop the corona virus at work?
“The Covid-19 pandemic that we now face is an extraordinary situation, but the principles of infection control are known and have been known for decades. Keep yourselves – especially your hands – clean. Keep equipment, tools, controls and surfaces clean. If social distancing cannot be maintained in your workplace, consider masks – but make sure you wear the correct mask and implement the mask program with appropriate education and training and auditing. (Any respiratory protection programme, whether to wear a simple surgical mask or a supplied-air respirator, needs careful implementation and follow-up to succeed.)
“Think about routes of transmission: during the commute to work and home again, at shift changes, near particular pieces of equipment, in the lunch room, washrooms – wherever people will share breathing space.
“Ensure that workers have sufficient “sick leave” so that they do not feel the need to come to work while sick. Implement a testing program when tests become more readily available. Have a plan to accommodate workers who have higher risk levels. Have a plan to deal with a worker who begins to feel symptoms while at work – how will you get them to medical care, and how will you trace and track every worker that they came into contact with?
“These are just examples, there are extensive guidelines available from the World Health Organization and from national governments and other credible sources. There is also a lot of misinformation out there, so make sure you are getting your guidance from a credible source!”
What rights do workers have?
“Trade unions insist on three basic occupational health and safety rights for workers: the right to know, the right to participate, and the right to refuse or shut down unsafe work.
“The right to know means to know everything there is to know about the hazards of our work, and to receive the necessary education and training to do the job safely.
“The right to participate means to be full partners in the development and implementation of all workplace health and safety policies, programmes, procedures, accident/incident investigations, inspections, audits, risk assessments – everything. We want health and safety done with us, not “to us”. The only people with the moral authority to assess a risk are those who face the risk.
“Finally, we demand the right to refuse to perform, or to shut down, any work that a worker believes to be unsafe or dangerous to health – without negative repercussions.”
Publicación de IndustriALL Global Union sobre el derecho a rechazar o detener el trabajo inseguro.
IndustriALL Global Union’s publication on the right to refuse or to shut down unsafe work.
IndustriALL Global Union views occupational health and safety as a matter of workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities. The extraordinary situation created by the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, does not change these fundamentals. In fact, they are now more important than ever.
Covid-19 – Advice for workers and employers
IndustriALL global union
IndustriALL Global Union considera que la salud y la seguridad en el trabajo son un derecho de los trabajadores y una responsabilidad de los empleadores. La situación extraordinaria generada por el brote de la COVID-19, la enfermedad causada por el nuevo coronavirus, no cambia estos estos principios fundamentales. De hecho, ahora son más importantes que nunca.
COVID-19: Recomendaciones para trabajadores y empleadores
IndustriALL Global Union
Pour IndustriALL Global Union, la santé et sécurité au travail est une matière qui relève des droits des travailleurs et incombe à la responsabilité des employeurs. La situation extraordinaire provoquée par l’épidémie de COVID-19, la maladie causée par le nouveau coronavirus, ne change rien à la situation de principe. En fait, elle s’impose avec plus d’actualité que jamais.
COVID-19 – Conseils aux travailleurs et aux employeurs
IndustriALL Global Union
Глобальный союз IndustriALL считает, что вопросы охраны здоровья и безопасности относятся к сфере прав работников и обязанностей работодателей. Ни чрезвычайная ситуация, возникшая из-за вспышки COVID-19, ни вызываемое новым вирусом заболевание не меняют этих основополагающих принципов. Напротив, они сейчас важнее, чем когда-либо.
Covid-19 – советы работникам и работодателям
On 24 April 2016 workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan remembered the dead and demanded improved factory safety and punishment to those responsible for the tragedy. IndustriALL website