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Global: IndustriALL – Health and safety must be a fundamental principle and right at work

27 April, 2022 As we prepare for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April to remember the unnecessary, tragic losses of workers’ lives, we hope to celebrate a milestone in the global efforts to stem the tide of deaths in the world of work. A better tomorrow, where workers will be safe in the knowledge that health and safety will be a fundamental principle and right at work.

“A fundamental rights approach to health and safety provides a human rights lens. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights include a duty and responsibility to protect the health and safety of workers. Such a human rights-based approach will have the effect of creating coherence between human rights and occupational health and safety standards and reinforce the principle that all workers share the right to a safe and healthy working environment,”

says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kan Matsuzaki.

While IndustriALL Global Union applauds the ILO Governing Body’s decision in March to agree to put forth the discussion for an amendment to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work to include occupational safety and health during the International Labour Conference in June 2022, we demand no less than an agreement. It has been three years since the ILO Centenary Conference agreed to the amendment and 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,”

says ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow.

According to an estimate by the Workplace Safety and Health Institute, across the world in 2017, 2.78 million deaths were the result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases. The biggest share of work-related mortality was from work-related illnesses, which accounted for 2.40 million (86.3 per cent) of the total estimated deaths. Fatal injuries accounted for the remaining 13.7 per cent.
In 2019, the World Health Organization estimated that workplace-related deaths exceed the average annual deaths from road accidents (999,000), war (502,000), violence (563,000) and HIV/AIDS (312,000).

“Many of IndustriALL’s sectors, like mining, shipbreaking, chemicals and textile and garment, mirror these statistics, which also show a stark regional difference,”

says IndustriALL mining and health and safety director Glen Mpufane.


In combination with other fundamental principles and rights, recognizing health and safety as a fundamental principle offers workers a fighting chance to win the war. IndustriALL is calling on its more than million members across the world to participate in events and activities on 28 April, demand that employers and governments act 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 recognizing Covid-19 as an occupational disease

Let us know what action you are taking in making the demand for the recognizing of health and safety as a fundamental principle and right – it could be webinars, protests, online statements, petitions, workplace inspections. Please tag IndustriALL on social media and use the hashtag #IWMD22

The ILO is hosting a webinar, Act together to build a positive safety and health culture – World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2022, with ILO Director General Guy Ryder and global leaders and experts. You can register here.

Cover photo: Marcel Crozet / ILO