Focus

Focus Archive

Workplace Health Without Borders

November 2011

In the Spring of 2011, a group of occupational hygienists and other activists came together in Toronto, Canada to found Workplace Health Without Borders, a not-for-profit organisation, to address these issues. WHWB hopes to incorporate ideas from, and work with other groups who have set up similar organisations.

Building on ideas explored by occupational hygienists in Norway, the United States and elsewhere, Workplace Health Without Borders has the goal of engaging volunteers in improving workplace health in those regions of the world with under-served worker populations. The focus of WHWB is to provide workers and employers with technical assistance, training and skills development to help them to develop the capacity and infrastructure to manage and improve the health conditions in their workplaces. WHWB intent is also to focus on helping Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) who serve communities and workplaces in developing countries to integrate occupational health into their work.

Interest in WHWB is growing rapidly. Nearly 40 people attended a meeting at the AIHce in Portland, USA on 18 May 2011, and everyone who attended agreed to join and volunteer in one capacity or another. There is still a need for enthusiastic volunteers. Whatever your area of interest, if you are interested in the concept of a globally active occupational hygiene group, there is a place for you with WHWB.

The WHWB web site www.whwb.org contains links to other resources and relevant organisations.

WHWB's Vision - A world where workers do not get sick because of their work.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 2/3 of the world's 3 billion workers are employed in unhealthy and unsafe working conditions. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports nearly 2 million deaths each year from occupational disease. In addition, about 160 million of the world's workers get sick every year due to non-fatal occupational diseases. Most of the world's workers do not have access to occupational hygiene expertise. They lack the resources, knowledge and technology to identify and control workplace exposure to disease-causing agents such as chemicals, microorganisms, noise and radiation.