GENEVA (ILO News) – Responding to a pressing need to improve the safety and health of workers, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the European Union are launching a new project aimed at reducing occupational accidents and diseases in six countries in Eastern Europe (Ukraine and Moldova), Africa (Zambia and Malawi) and Central America (Honduras and Nicaragua).
The new project – called “Improving safety and health at work through a decent work agenda” – will play a part in a more inclusive and productive society by seeking to advance safety and health at work through a systematic approach engaging commitment on the highest political level.
“The project will include sensitization activities to convince government officials to include occupational health and safety concerns as part of national development plans, to stimulate high level decision makers at government level to allocate funds for occupational safety and health and, more generally speaking, to encourage stakeholders to take the necessary steps to improve occupational safety and health”, said Mr Seiji Machida, director of SafeWork, the ILO’s Programme on safety and Health at work and the environment.
One the main activities will be to support the national tripartite constituents in developing national OSH action plans based on the needs and gaps in these countries. Seminars for national policy-makers will be held to sensitize them on OSH and push for high level support at the national level.
Two key products will be developed as an integral part of the project: a methodology to determine more accurately the number of occupational accidents and work-related diseases in each country, as well a practical tool to enable countries to make their own calculations of the costs of not improving OSH conditions.
“Knowing the scope of the problem and extent of work related accidents, diseases and fatalities that occur daily will help advocate for action to mitigate these tragedies. The methodologies and tools will help quantify the concern, and call for an informed need to prevent work related catastrophes”, Mr Machida said.
Other activities include – depending on the local context – training of OSH inspectors and awareness-raising campaigns in conjunction with the annual World Day on Safety and Health at Work and the EU Safety and Health at Work week. This will involve the development of tools such as brochures, newsletters, promotional items, public events and visits, audiovisual and multimedia presentations targeting also the general public. A specific website displaying updated information on the project will be created.
“Good practices and lessons learned in the six countries involved will certainly be very useful to further spread the advocacy messages on OSH in other parts of the world. They will be the subject of a final report which will be published for the benefit of other countries and to promote a systematic approach to national occupational health and safety developments”, says Mr Bouratsis, Director of Thematic Operations in European Commission EuropeAid Cooperation Office.
In addition, the ILO and European Commission will organize a global conference to disseminate guidance on OSH programmes and exchange good practices, including the findings of country programmes.
Finally, advocacy tools developed by the project will be promoted by ILO SafeWork through its on-line CIS database and information service. Findings will also be endorsed by both the ILO and EU regional networks.
The countries covered involved were chosen based on the priorities identified in the decent work country programmes (DWCPs) of these countries, and the willingness expressed by the constituents to participate in the implementation of the project to ensure successful results and improvement in OSH.
Safety and health at work remains a major global concern, making such an advocacy project a much needed tool to save lives. Some 2.31 million people die around the world every year as a result of their work. This means that 6,500 workers die every day of the year from work-related accidents or illnesses. Of these, some 1,000 people go out to work in the morning or evening and simply don’t return home because they die in occupational accidents.