Hazardous Work
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Hazardous Work

It is a known fact that certain sectors and occupations are more dangerous than others. Protecting workers in hazardous conditions – in what is often known as the “3D”, dirty, difficult and dangerous, jobs – is therefore a primary focus of the SafeWork programme.

Priority is given to workers in the most hazardous sectors and occupations, such as agriculture, construction, mining, or ship-breaking, or where working relationships or conditions create particular risks, such as exposure to hazardous agents, such as chemical substances or radiation, or in the informal economy.

Occupational deaths and injuries and work-related diseases take a particularly heavy toll in developing countries, where large numbers of workers are concentrated in the primary and extractive activities mentioned above. It often happens that these countries are also those without adequate technical and economic capacities to maintain effective national OSH systems, particularly regulatory and enforcement mechanisms. In the industrialised market economy countries, on the other hand, there is a general trend to a decrease in the numbers of occupational accidents and diseases, reflecting a decrease in the “traditional” risks, itself associated with a shift from employment in high risk sectors to services. In all countries the changing world of work is leading to an increase in smaller businesses, changes in the characteristics of organisations, changes in working time and organisation, increase in non-standard work and employment contracts and changes in the composition of the workforce, with a higher percentage of older workers and women workers. The traditional hazard and risk prevention and control tools may be still effective but they need to be complemented by prevention strategies to anticipate, identify, evaluate and control hazards arising from the constantly evolving world of work which itself may be introducing new hazards.

The SafeWork programme in this context is making use of its extensive experience in promoting standards, codes of practice, technical guides and training materials, as well as developing means of practical action for the protection of workers in hazardous conditions. It has developed a series of International Hazard Datasheets on Occupations (HDO), in collaboration with the Israel Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene and National ILO/CIS Occupational Safety and Health Information Centres throughout the world. An International Hazard Datasheet on Occupations is a multipurpose information resource containing information on the hazards, risks and notions of prevention related to a specific occupation. The datasheets list in a standard format different hazards to which a worker, in the normal course of normal work, may be exposed. They provide several measures for the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases.

SafeWork also works closely with the ILO Sectoral Activities Unit (SECTOR), particularly in the areas of OSH in agriculture, construction, mining and ship-breaking, and with the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), in the area of hazardous work for children and young workers.

What's new

  1. ILC Side Event to mark the World Day 2011 and the launch of a new ILO report on hazardous work
    10 June 2011 to 10 June 2011 - at 13.15-14.30, Room XVII, Palais des Nations (door E40 in new building), Geneva

    This meeting is to mark the World Day Against Child Labour 2011 and to launch a new ILO report on hazardous work "Children in hazardous work: What we know, what we need to do".

  2. ILO and FAO side event on "Vulnerable groups and pesticides exposure: Joining forces to reduce hazardous child labour in agriculture"
    22 June 2011 to 22 June 2011 - Geneva, 1 pm - 3 pm, Centre International de Conférences (CICG)

    This meeting aims to draw attention towards the linkage between chemicals exposure and hazardous child labour. This side event is being organized during the next Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention. The Rotterdam Convention promotes shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment from potential harm; and contributes to the environmentally sound use of those hazardous chemicals, by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, by providing for a national decision-making process on their import and export and by disseminating these decisions to Parties.

  3. The impact of pesticide exposure on child labourers in agriculture
    22 June 2011

    The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO held a side event during the conference (on 22 June at 13:00) to highlight the impact of pesticide exposure on children, and child labourers in particular. ILO News spoke to Paola Termine, ILO Technical specialist on child labour in agriculture, who is also coordinating the International partnership for cooperation on child labour in agriculture, ahead of the meeting.

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