Time to prepare for World Day for Safety and Health, 28 April 2005
Sheila Pantry OBE
World Day for Safety and Health at Work is now an annual event for the ILO, held on 28th April. It is an integral part of the SafeWork's Global Strategy, as documented in the Conclusions of the International Labour Conference in June 2003. Advocacy, as exemplified by World Day, is one of the main pillars of the Global Strategy, and should raise awareness about safe and unsafe practices and the need to move occupational safety and health up the political agenda. On this day the ICFTU observes Worker Memorial Day and often the two can be combined.
The over-arching theme for this year is a safety and health culture (providing continuity of message with last year) with a special emphasis on prevention. To offer constituents a choice of emphasis, there are two sub-themes:
- construction health and safety
- younger and older workers' needs related to occupational health and safety.
Last year events were held in over 100 countries world wide. They ranged from speeches held by leaders from government, employers' organizations and trade unions to street theatre and worker coffee meetings focusing on occupational safety and health. There were also podium discussions between eminent specialists in the field and launches of new technical and legal material related to occupational safety and health. For more information see the web site: www.ilo.org/safework/events/safeday/lang--en/index.htm
This year, SafeWork would like to invite you to begin preparing activities in your region or country. Events such as the following can be organised, either by ILO offices, or by constituents or in collaboration. ILO Headquarters will provide a substantive report, fact sheets, and posters (available exclusively via the web site) in English, French and Spanish. We will also supply some other products such as pins and stickers. You are welcome to develop your own materials for added local relevance.
There will be a press release and communications officers in your offices are encouraged to work together with DCOMM at Headquarters to develop media materials and actions.
The focus for this year, as last year, is on activities in the field (there will be no headquarters event). Your activities will carry the Day and contribute to its success. So it is time to prepare for your commitment to what is becoming a major annual event.
Thematic brief: ILO World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2005
This year's themes are:
- Safety and health culture (overarching theme)
- Prevention (main emphasis within overarching theme)
- Construction safety (subtheme)
- Younger and older workers (subtheme)
The definition of a safety and health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels. It is one where governments, employers and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defined rights, responsibilities and duties, and where the principle of prevention is accorded the highest priority. Building and maintaining a preventative safety and health culture requires making use of all available means to increase general awareness, knowledge and understanding of the concepts of hazards and risks and how they may be prevented or controlled.
Construction safety is a significant area because while this sector generates much employment, it is also where more than its fair share of accidents, particularly fatal accidents, take place. The work is dangerous because it may often include working at heights (on scaffolding, gangways, ladders, roofs), excavation work (explosives, earth-moving machines), and using lifting materials (cranes, hoists).
These dangers can largely be avoided by good planning and co-ordination, for example making sure there are sufficient skilled workers and the appropriate tools and equipment at the right place at the right time. Preventive measures include signalling, developing and implementing safety procedures, personal protective equipment (where other means of protection are not available), training, first aid, and also cover welfare facilities such as drinking water and sanitary facilities.
Youth at work tends to suffer disproportionately from workplace accidents and diseases. Faced with high demands and little control (i.e. being highly stressed), yet wanting to please and wanting peer approval (wanting to be "cool") at the same time, means that young people may tend to disregard safety measures. Often they are simply not aware of those safety measures and do not yet have the experience to recognize or avoid potential danger.
Older people at work face different risks. While in most occupations they tend to have fewer accidents, they need longer to recover than younger people from injury or work-related illness. Any diseases which build up over time will manifest themselves after a certain age. What older workers may lose in strength, balance and flexibility for physical work is often made up for by higher accuracy than younger workers. So accommodation is called for to profit from the valuable skills and competencies older workers have. Preventing discrimination against older workers is also vital. In mental work, there may be a loss of the ability to deal with multiple stimuli in a busy work environment, but there is a net gain in experience and ability to make the right decision the first time round.
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Training and conferences... for your 2005 Diary
Now is the time to think about the training, which perhaps has not been carried out for you and others. Look at the latest additions to the Diary of Events and you will see plans have been made already worldwide up to 2006 to have training courses, symposiums and conferences in many places in the world on a wide range of subjects. Don't forget that in September 2005 there will be a major conference EurOhse2005 www.eurohse2005.com to be held in London and also in Florida, USA is the ILO Congress. Already bookings have been made. So do not wait until it is too late to get into these important events.
Remember that even if you cannot attend these many events, speakers and organisers are often willing to share their knowledge. Look at the details - where possible, we add in the web sites of these events so you can request further information. And do let me know if you are organising any OSHE events so that I can add them to the Diary.
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Have had a zero accident and incident-free year in 2005 in your workplace!