Safety and health at work

Occupational accidents and diseases lead to devastating impacts on workers, enterprises and entire communities and economies. Despite many improvements, the prevention of accidents and work-related diseases continues to have a considerable importance on a global scale.

Estimates on the exposure to 19 specific occupational risk factors showed that they led to almost 2 million fatalities globally between 2010 and 2016, 82% of which due to occupational diseases, the major cause of fatalities being cardiovascular diseases. For enterprises, this can have impacts on productivity, including losses due to permanent impairment and staff turnover costs. Furthermore, it is estimated that occupational accidents and diseases lead to a 5.4 per cent of annual global gross domestic product being lost, impacting economic progress.

Renewed collective commitment and action towards the protection of workers against sickness, disease and injury arising out of employment is needed.

The global affirmation of the importance of safety and health at work was expressed in June 2022, when the International Labour Conference (ILC) decided to include a safe and healthy working environment in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work (FPRW), designating the Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155) and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187) as fundamental Conventions.

This decision reaffirms the constitutional obligation of ILO Members to promote, respect and realize the principles contained in these two Conventions, which are fully complementary and require Members to progressively set up national OSH policies, programmes, and systems and to build in every country a national preventative safety and health culture. They contain provisions of general scope covering all branches of activity and all workers and serve as a basis for safety and health measures provided in the other, nearly 40 international labour standards and codes of practice specifically dealing with OSH.

Video statements

  1. Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

  2. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO

  3. Marty Walsh, United States Secretary of Labor

  4. Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour for Canada