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World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Anticipate, Prepare and Respond

If the Covid-19 Pandemic has taught us anything it should have taught us to ‘Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises’. This is the theme for the 2021 World Day for Safety and Health at Work. Investing time, whether at home or at work, preparing for a crisis is never wasted.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) marks its World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28th April. It is an international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work around the globe, to prevent occupational accidents and diseases.

Every day, 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases more than 2.3 million deaths per year. Over 3 million accidents occur on the job annually; many of these resulting in extended absences from work. The human cost of this daily adversity is vast and the economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices is estimated at 4 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product each year. (Source ILO)

The ILO has recognized the important role that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) play in providing incomes and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of workers, who often operate in the informal economy. There is a need for a better understanding of the occupational safety and health (OSH) situation in MSMEs, as well as an improved knowledge about initiatives for achieving safe and healthy workplaces. MSMEs constitute the vast majority of enterprises worldwide. They are generally characterized by their precarious nature and poor OSH conditions, and often operate partially or wholly outside the formal sector. These socio-economic factors, combined with a low level of awareness of and compliance with OSH standards, leave the workers in these enterprises particularly exposed to risks to their safety and health. Most MSMEs have to contend constantly with a lack of resources, which makes it extremely difficult for them to improve working conditions.

A report by the ILO found that Governments and social partners face challenges in delivering OSH services and ensuring compliance in MSMEs. This is particularly apparent in developing countries, because of their lack of:

  • resources,
  • sufficient and trained labour inspectors, and
  • a strategy for targeting these enterprises.

The report found that in order to ensure that MSMEs effectively implement OSH measures, government initiatives should be:

  • low cost or free;
  • action-orientated;
  • tailored to the specific needs of these enterprises.

Initiatives should integrate OSH with other management goals or business processes. It is not standalone.

What can you do?

Employers are responsible for ensuring that the working environment is safe and healthy. Workers are responsible for working safely and protecting ourselves, not to endanger others, to know our rights and to participate in the implementation of preventative measures.

Soroptimist Projects

Soroptimists support Fairtrade which means farmers have more say in how the farms are run. This enables and empowers them to create change, from investing in climate friendly farming techniques and clean water for their community, to nurturing women leaders and making sure children get an education.

Soroptimist work to encourage girls and young women into careers in science, technology, engineering, arts/design and mathematics (STEAM), these subjects are key to the safety and health of our future workforce and world.

Carol Infanti
APD Prosperity