Written by Victoria Meddings

What is World Day for Safety and Health at Work?

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a designated day that stresses the importance of preventing accidents and diseases at work, and was formed by the “International Labour Organisation” in 2003. According to the United Nations, the day itself is “an integral part of the global strategy on occupational safety and health”, capitalising on organisational strengths including social dialogue and tripartism, which is an economic system where employers, organisations, trade unions and governments all work together to create better working conditions for employees. One of the pillars of World Day for Safety and Health at Work is advocacy, as the day is used as a “tool to raise awareness of how to make work safe and healthy”, as well as “the need to raise the political profile of occupational safety and health”. The date for World Day for Safety and Health at Work was inspired by the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, which is a worldwide trade union movement that occurs on 28th April, and has done so since it was organised in 1996.

How does World Day for Safety and Health at Work help to prevent occupational accidents and diseases?

World Day for Safety and Health at Work promotes the prevention of occupational accidents and disease by raising awareness on how big a problem health and safety at work is in certain parts of the world. It helps promote and create “a safety and health culture [that] can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries”. Everyone is responsible for preventing deaths and injuries at work, and governments are responsible for providing the laws and services that ensure worker’s safety.

According to the United Nations, “this includes the development of a national policy and programme and a system of inspection to enforce compliance with occupational safety and health legislation and policy”. Employers are responsible for ensuring a working environment stays safe and healthy, while employees are responsible for ensuring that they take the responsibility of safety seriously to protect themselves and others. Risks at work can include new technologies; new production processes; higher workloads; more intense work when a company downsizes; poor working conditions due to migration of work; working in the informal economy; self-employment; outsourcing, and temporary contracts.

The United Nations accepts new scientific understanding that some kinds of work can have long-term impacts on an individual in terms of their physical health, “ergonomic risks on musculoskeletal disorders”, and mental health “psychosocial factors on work-related stress”. Also, according to the United Nations, “the Covid-19 pandemic has had profound impacts everywhere”. As a result, there were risks regarding the transmission of the virus in workplaces, with a shift to new forms of working and an increased reliance on teleworking. All of this meant that employees were more at risk when it came to factors that could affect their health or safety in the workplace.

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