From theory and platitudes to conviction and action

Linking safety and health at work to sustainable economic development

The focus of the project will be on developing global products to support national and local level actions to help prevent human suffering, exclusion from the labour market, and economic costs to employers and governments. Guided by the provisions of C.187 and priorities identified by constituents in the Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs) framework and country priority outcomes, the project will support efforts in creating a preventive safety and health culture and a systems approach to occupational safety and health (OSH). This takes on added importance in the present global crisis, which could undermine any efforts in the OSH field.

Decision makers, including Ministries of Labour and of Finance, tend to look at the costs of implementing new laws and policies, or focus on what they feel are “more important” issues such as employment and wages. OSHmay often be seen as a technical area which entails costs, but the benefits of improving safety and health at work are rarely taken into consideration, both on a national and workplace level. To this end, this project will result in products addressing the needs of governments and social partners, including advocacy tools to convince decision makers of the necessity to take action on OSH.

National level commitment must be backed up by commitment and action at the workplace, where the realities of risk are actually encountered. This entails employer commitment to improving OSH, and worker participation as a requisite input into improvements. Employers will be more motivated to act if improvements are inexpensive, readily available, and can be linked with increased productivity. Participation by workers and their representatives is also crucial to improved safety and health at work, as indicated by several studies on the subject.

The core of the strategy will therefore be to deliver quality information on the priorities outlined above, identifying recent trends and developing guidance and effective policies to guide the content of national programmes. Practical guides and training materials will be developed and pilot tested in close collaboration with the Turin Centre, in order to help build the capacity and confidence of national constituents to develop, adapt and implement policies and strategies themselves.

Efforts will therefore focus on developing commitment and motivation for OSHimprovements through:
  • Research and compilation of best practices in the areas identified, particularly on the changing conditions and organisation of work and the workforce and links with the financial crisis; estimates of work-related accidents and diseases (methodology reviewed and new figures calculated) ; national systems of recording and notification and their link to insurance schemes on occupational accidents and diseases;
  • Development of policy advice, guidance and motivational tools on the above areas as well as on the development of national OSHpolicies and strategies;
  • Development of training modules on how to develop national OSHstrategies, in collaboration with the ILO-ITC, and piloting of these;
  • Practical tools and training packages will be developed particularly for employers and workers and their organisations in dealing with risk management and participation for improvements at the workplace level.
The guidance and policy tools will necessarily address the means, or the “how”, of developing policy and strategy in a national and local context, particularly in the context of promoting tripartite development of action plans. Training for workplace level OSHimprovements will focus on identification of hazards, evaluation of risks and developing solutions together, employers and workers and their representatives. OSHis often seen as the domain of experts, but the project strategy will focus on tools aimed at responsibilising and mobilising constituents to develop and implement actions themselves. These will outline the responsibilities of the different partners, as well as discuss best practices in fostering social dialogue for OSHimprovements.