Occupational Safety and Health

Advancing Pakistan’s occupational safety and health legislation through social dialogue

The ILO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development organized a two-day National Tripartite Consultation on OSH in the mining sector. The Consultation took stock of the OSH situation in the mining sector, raised awareness on the sub optimal working conditions, mapped possible solutions for improvement and identified roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in promoting a preventive safety and health culture.

Press release | Bhurban, Pakistan | 28 November 2017
BHURBAN (ILO News): Pakistan like many other developing countries, faces challenges of economic transition, globalization of trade and technology is bringing new challenges in the field of occupational safety and health (OSH). Furthermore, the 18th constitutional amendment made it obligatory for provincial governments to legislate laws at provincial level, implement, enforce and report on Pakistan’s international commitments to the Federal Government. This is also important for the economic growth particularly for export oriented sectors to comply with international standards including on OSH.

Within this context, and in light of the ongoing OSH legislation processes at provincial level, a two day national tripartite consultation was convened from 23 to 24 November to gain a shared understanding on how to develop sound OSH legislation among stakeholders. The consultation followed a Federal Tripartite Consultative Committee (FTCC) meeting held in May 2017 where progress on OSH legislation was debated and prioritized. The consultation was attended by 32 senior delegates from the Tripartite Consultative Committees i.e. Government both Federal and Provincial, Employers’ and Workers’ organizations as well as academia and other stakeholders. The national consultation was a joint collaboration between the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (OPHRD) and the ILO with funding from the European Union and Dutch Government.

Her Excellency Ardi Stoios-Braken, Ambassador, The Kingdom of the Netherlands in her opening remarks emphasized the shared goal of the stakeholders in achieving “a safe and healthy working environment for every worker in Pakistan”. She also stressed the importance of labor inspection as a necessary element for the realization of OSH and its importance in ensuring the continuity of Pakistan’s GSP-plus status awarded to the country in 2014 for a ten year period.

Mr Khawaja Nauman representative of Employers’ Federation of Pakistan (EFP) in his statement said his organization had no hesitation in pointing out that even though employers were taking the lead in implementing OSH initiatives in large national organizations, the challenge remained among SMEs’ and the informal economy due to their reactive rather than preventative approach.

Ms Ingrid Christensen, Country Director ILO at the opening session of the event highlighted the fact that legislation on OSH was important and that Pakistan did not yet have comprehensive laws. She further stated that legislation alone was not sufficient as these need to be implemented and enforced in true spirit. Ms Christensen also acknowledged the progress in Sindh Province which passed its OSH bill on 17th November 2017 through the Sindh Assembly.

During the consultation, participants discussed in detail the safety and health issues in the context of new legislation as well as the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders in promoting a preventative safety and health culture. Participants also discussed the possible options and avenues to extend, implement and enforce OSH legislation in the informal economy.

Speaking during the closing ceremony, Senior Joint Secretary of the Ministry of OPHRD, Mr Noor Zaman Khan congratulated the participants and ILO for the timely and participatory event and expressed the hope that the consultation would raise commitment among stakeholders to enact and comply with OSH legislation. He also cautioned that if workers’ welfare in terms of OSH was not taken care of it would prove to be counter-productive for Pakistan’s overall development. Therefore concerted efforts were necessary to make OSH a reality for all workers.

According to ILO new global estimates 2017, there are 2.78 million fatal work-related injuries and illnesses each year, with 2.4 million due to work-related diseases, places in sharp relief the human suffering caused by the failure to make the needed investments in occupational safety and health at the international, national and enterprise levels. This human suffering also carries with it a significant economic cost. The new global estimate of the economic cost of work-related fatal and non-fatal injuries and illnesses amounts to 3.94 percent of the global GDP.