ILO Convention No. 161

Moldova pledges safer and healthier workplaces

In Moldova, if you choose to work in construction, agriculture or transportation you may run a high risk of work-related injury. This is what the statistics tell us. In 2019, every third work-related accident in the construction sector caused a loss of life, according to the State Labour Inspection. Paradoxically, the statistics are silent when it comes to workers suffering from occupational diseases, nor do they cast any light on jobs with high risk of occupational illnesses. Weak occupational safety and health (OSH) governance, failure to diagnose diseases by the health services as well as lax notification practices by employers are to blame. On 4 March 2021, the Moldovan Parliament enacted legislation ratifying the ILO Occupational Health Services Convention No. 161, which is a major step to address these problems. The Convention guides actions on protecting workers against work-related injuries, diseases and deaths. It reinforces the national system of occupational safety and health, and the provision of occupational health services which are key elements of a successful national OSH system.

News | 19 March 2021

Since gaining independence in 1991, Moldova has embraced multiple transformations, including development of new industries and technologies, demographic shifts and new occupations. . Some of these changes advanced safety and health at work, while others created new risks. The extent of current risks is reflected in Moldova’s high work fatality rates: in 2019, 5.8 per 100,000 workers, compared to 3.0 for Europe overall. Even this figure may understate the extent of occupational rises, due to large gaps in employers’ reporting non-fatal accidents, as well as the public health system’s scant statistics on occupational diseases. At the common workplace, national reports highlight excessive noise, high vibration, poor lighting, exposure to gas and dust, temperatures of unacceptable levels as most prevalent risks.. Few reports talk about work-related stress, fatigue and new psycho-social risks, or emerging non-communicable diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic created further potential for risks.
In 2019 close to 16,000 working days were lost due to work-related injuries in Moldova (32 days per worker on average).

In 2019 close to 16,000 working days were lost due to work-related injuries in Moldova (32 days per worker on average). It cost the employers nearly 4 million MDLei (2% of the social security fund). Many of injuries and diseases might have been prevented should occupational health professionals be around, but the number of trained experts is few.

Moldova’s ratification of Convention No. 161 reaffirms its commitment to advance effective OSH policies and preventive measures, accurate reporting of risks and ensure the safety, health and well-being of workers. The preparatory work for ratification took several years. This was a joint effort by national constituents and the ILO, including a series of tripartite consultations and trainings on the ILO Convention.. The ratification is fully in line with the goals of the EU Association Agreement in relation  to promotion of health and safety at work.

As Tatiana Zatic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection noted, “The protection of workers from harm has been at the core of the mandates assigned to the government. Ratification of the ILO Convention No. 161 will help the government and social partners establish effective occupational health services that promote a culture of prevention, anticipate health risks and educates employers and workers, in line with the best international standards and practices.”

As a first step, the government wants to introduce new occupational health control measures and supportive equipment; expand the network of occupational health specialists; reorganise the training curricula; and enlarge the scope of occupational health services.

TheILO provides support to Moldova to enhance the OSH system through a technical project “Protecting workers and ensuring decent and safe working conditions during the COVID-19 crisis and recovery in Moldova”.

Occupational health and safety means:

(i)    the maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity;
(ii)   the improvement of the working environment and the work process to be conducive to safety and health, and
(iii)  the development of work organizations and working cultures so that they support health and safety at work, a positive social climate and productivity.