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June 2023

111th ILO International Labour Conference – 5-16 June 2023

The opening sitting of the 111th International Labour Conference will elect the Conference President and Vice-Presidents, adopt the operational arrangements for the conduct of the Conference and the constitution of committees. It will also hear the opening addresses of the President of the Conference, the Employers’ group and Workers’ Group Chairpersons as well as the opening statement by the ILO Director-General and the presentation by the Chairperson of the Governing Body of her report.

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HSE inspections target woodworking businesses to tackle occupational lung disease 2023/24

Many woodworking businesses are endangering workers’ lives by failing to implement the measures required to prevent or control exposure to wood dust says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Supported by HSE’s Dust Kills campaign, which provides free advice to businesses and workers on the control measures required to prevent exposure to dust, HSE inspectors across Great Britain will be visiting businesses within woodworking industries such as sawmilling, manufacture of composite boards, and carpentry, focusing on the dangers of respiratory risks from wood dust.

Woodworking industries have the potential for high incidence rates of occupational ill-health caused by worker exposure to inadequately controlled wood dust in the workplace, such as sino-nasal cancer, occupational asthma and dermatitis.

Throughout 2023/24, inspectors will be looking for evidence that employers have considered the control measures required to reduce workers exposure to wood dust, that workers understand the risks of exposure to wood dust, and effective control measures have been put in place to protect workers from harm. Inspectors will take enforcement action when necessary to make sure workers are protected.

In 2022/23, HSE carried out more than 1,000 woodworking inspections and found 78% of businesses were not compliant in protecting workers from respiratory sensitisers (primarily dust from hardwoods, softwoods and composite materials such as MDF). This resulted in 402 enforcement actions taken by HSE, highlighting particular areas of concern around provision and use of suitable Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) and Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV), as well as the administration of health surveillance.

HSE’s head of manufacturing David Butter said: “Around 12,000 workers died last year from lung diseases linked to past exposure from work, and there are an estimated 19,000 new cases of breathing and lung problems each year, where individuals regarded their condition as being caused or made worse by work.

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The value of essential work: World Employment and Social Outlook 2023

Key workers are essential for societies to function. This report calls for a revaluation of their work to reflect their social contribution, and for greater investment in key sectors.

At the end of March 2020, 80% of the world’s population lived in countries with required workplace closures. At the same time, in the hushed streets of cities and towns throughout the world, key workers left the safety of their homes to go to work.

Across the world, these workers produced, distributed and sold food, cleaned streets and buses to minimize the spread of the pandemic, ensured public safety, transported essential goods and workers to their jobs, and cared for and healed the sick. These are the key workers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made evident the extent to which societies need key workers – in both good times and bad – but also how undervalued most key jobs are, raising concerns about the sustainability of these essential activities, especially given the possibility of future shocks.

This report calls for a revaluation of the work of key workers to reflect their social contribution and greater investment in key sectors.

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