04/29/2010

Focus on new emerging hazards in a changing world of work

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work, every year on 28 April, will be
observed widely this year against a backdrop of newly emerging hazards in the
world of work and growing concern over the impact of the global economic
crisis," according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

A wide range of events are planned, ranging from marches and memorial services
to seminars, conference, exhibitions and workshops aimed at promoting dialogue
on occupational safety and health (OSH). All activities aim to heighten
awareness of OSH issues in the world of work and promote a culture of
prevention.

"On this World Day we highlight the emerging risks and new approaches to
prevention in a changing world of work," said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia
in a statement issued for the day, adding that one of the elements of concern
was a "rise in psychosocial conditions linked to new stresses and strains of
work in the global economy."

"Recently the adverse impact of the economic crisis on enterprises has taken
its toll on many workers," Mr. Somavia said. "In building and sustaining
recovery, let us draw on the opportunity to shape integrated decent work
strategies in which safety and health is a key component. In the wake of the
crisis, let us act together to prevent a downward spiral in labour conditions
and build recovery founded on safe work."

A booklet entitled "Emerging risks and new patterns of prevention in a changing
world of work" published for the World Day summarizes key new OSH issues,
including those related to technical innovations such as nanotechnology and
biotechnology. In addition, the booklet also says that OSH experts have noted
with concern a rise in work-related stress disorders resulting from
difficulties "coping with the changing patterns of working life."

In addition, the ILO recently adopted a new list of occupational diseases
which, for the first time, includes mental, behavioural and post-traumatic
stress disorders. The ILO Governing Body also adopted a plan of action to
achieve widespread ratification and effective implementation of the
occupational safety and health instruments (Convention No. 155, its 2002
Protocol and Convention No. 187).

"Both this list and the existing ILO labour standards on OSH, provide a common
framework for ILO member States," said Seiji Machida, Director of the ILO's
Safe Work Programme. "The ILO calls for applying internationally-agreed labour
standards as a primary tool to reduce human and economic burdens of
work-related accidents and diseases."

ILO estimates indicate that every day some 6,300 people die as a result of
work-related injuries or diseases, equalling more than 2.3 million deaths per
year. In addition, some 337 million workplace accidents occur each year
resulting in extended absences from work.

"The human cost of this daily tragedy is immeasurable," Mr. Somavia said. " But
the economic cost of working days lost, medical treatment and cash benefits
paid out is estimated at 4 per cent of global GDP each year. This exceeds the
total value of the stimulus packages introduced in the face of the economic
crisis of 2008-09."


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AplusA-online.de - Source: International Labour Organization