Protect workers during and after lockdowns, urges UN labour agency

Marking the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has urged States to take action to prevent and control COVID-19 in the workplace.

Protect workers during and after lockdowns

Marking the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has urged States to take action to prevent and control COVID-19 in the workplace.

“The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount today”, underscored ILO Director-General Guy Ryder. 
Without adequate safeguards that meet the strict occupational safety and health criteria needed for bringing workers back, countries risk a resurgence of the virus, according to the UN’s labour agency. 

However, it noted, that by putting the necessary measures in place, the risk of a second wave of contagion contracted at the workplace will be minimized.

“In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are, and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves”, said Mr. Ryder.

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Risk control measures should be specifically adapted to meet the needs of the pandemic’s frontline workers, including, nurses, doctors, cleaners, those in food services and other workers “who risk their own health for us every day”.

“It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival”, spelled out the ILO chief.  

And while telecommuting offers new opportunities for employees to keep their jobs, he flagged that “workers must be able to negotiate these arrangements so that they retain balance with other responsibilities, such as caring for children, the sick or the elderly, and of course themselves”.

Risk assessments

In the face of a pandemic: Ensuring Safety and Health at Work, the report highlights the occupational safety and health risks that have arisen from the contagion. 

It also explores measures to prevent and control the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including psychosocial, ergonomic, and other work-related safety and health issues.

The ILO Centenary Declaration, adopted in June 2019, declared that “safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work”. 

Workplaces can help combat outbreaks

From past crises, ILO has learned that workplaces can be of vital importance to prevent and control outbreaks. 
Adequate safety and health measures can play a crucial role in containing the spread of the disease, while protecting workers and society at large.

Governments, employers and workers all have a role to play in tackling COVID-19 crisis, and according to ILO, their collaboration is key. 

In 2003, ILO began observing the day to stress the prevention of accidents and diseases at work. Also marked on 28 April is the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, which was organized worldwide by the trades union movement since 1996.

Video Courtesy/International Labour Organization

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