A significant step towards making occupational health and safety a fundamental workers’ right has been taken at the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body.
At its meeting last week, governments overwhelmingly supported worker members of the Governing Body to move ahead with the process and it is expected that the decision will be formalised at the ILO Conference in 2022.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: “We would like to have seen this year’s ILO Conference add health and safety to the list of fundamental rights, but we appreciate the support of governments for it to happen next year. This will mean greater accountability for governments and business for saving lives at work.
“It is all the more important given the terrible toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Safe workplaces mean greater safety for workers and for the public as well. Clear evidence is emerging around the world that most Covid outbreaks are occurring in workplaces, including schools.”
She noted designation of occupational health and safety as a Fundamental Right at Work (FRAW) was the theme for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April this year. “We will keep up the pressure, on International Workers’ Memorial Day and beyond,” she said.
Other important developments at the Governing Body meeting included agreement that the ILO will develop a Biological Hazards Convention.