Improving safety and health at work through a Decent Work Agenda

The project was developed by the ILO and the European Commission to better address safety and health at work as a vital component of decent work. It will be implemented over two and a half years between 2010 and 2012 in five pilot countries. The overall goal of the project is to contribute to a more inclusive and productive society through a reduction in occupational accidents and work-related diseases.

A project to save and improve lives

“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.” – Mr Seiji Machida, SafeWork Director

The pilot countries – Honduras, Malawi, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Zambia – were selected on the basis of their national commitment to improve health and safety at work, as witnessed by the formal agreements between governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations in the Decent Work Country Programmes.

By developing and implementing this time bound and targeted project, the European Union (EU) and the ILO are joining efforts to ensure that safety and health measures attain their endpoint and reach the concerned beneficiaries.

The project aims at incorporating occupational safety and health (OSH) at the highest level in the national political agenda, integrating it into national development policies, and translating the OSH National Programmes into action at the workplace level.

Occupational safety and health: A major global concern

The latest ILO estimates show that safety and health at work remains a major global concern. Urgent action is required to reverse this trend of workplace accidents and diseases, reliance on benefits, early retirement, exclusion from the labour market, the loss of a breadwinner and poverty.

  • Over 2 million people die around the world every year as a result of their work.
  • Every day around 1,000 people go out to work in the morning or evening and simply don’t return home because they die in occupational accidents.
  • Non-fatal occupational accidents have increased to over 300 million per year.
  • The global economic cost of occupational accidents and diseases represent 4% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).

The increasing human, economic and social burden of workplace accidents, diseases and fatalities has urged the development of preventive international standards and operational action in this field. The importance of safety and health at work is apparent in more than half of the ILO instruments, but translating these provisions into real practice at national and workplace level remains a challenge.


Overall goal

To contribute to a more inclusive and productive society through a reduction in occupational accidents and work-related diseases.

Specific objectives

  • A systematic approach to improving occupational safety and health is taken on board at the highest political level, including consideration of OSH concerns in national development policies in the pilot countries.
  • Practical OSH management measures are introduced and implemented at enterprise level in accordance with national action plans.
  • Global knowledge sharing on OSH tools and good practices is promoted with the purpose of developing a systematic and sustainable approach to OSH improvements.

Expected results

  • A national dialogue process on OSH is established and functioning in the five pilot countries.
  • National OSH programmes are adopted in the five pilot countries.
  • Advocacy tools developed by the project are used by stakeholders who are motivated to promote OSH at national level.
  • Stakeholders are capable of using tools and methodologies to improve OSH management at the workplace.
  • Methodologies used and good practices developed in the pilot countries are acknowledged by more countries.

“Good practices and lessons learned in the five countries involved will certainly be very useful to further spread the advocacy messages on OSH in other parts of the world…and promote a systematic approach to national occupational health and safety developments.” – Mr Aristotelis Bouratsis, Director of Thematic Operations in the EuropeAid Development and Cooperation Directorate General of the European Commission