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Health and safety in the workplace. A bane or boon?

Recognizing the accountability of governments and employers in saving lives at work, unions all over the world are calling for the International Labor Organizations (ILO) to designate workers’ health and safety as a fundamental right.

Nevertheless, the action taken by trade unions is just a reminder of a pledge in the 2019 ILO Centenary Declaration. 

The issue on occupational health and safety (OHS) for all workers was unanimously adopted by governments, workers and employers during the 108th session of the International Labor Conference (ILC).

Thus, in response to these challenges the ILO during its 100 years founding anniversary, it presented a roadmap for a human-centered future, dubbed as, a Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work.

As a matter of urgency, the concern to elevate health and safety to the highest level of international labor standards was the recommendation by the Collegium Ramazzini, the premier independent international body of experts on OHS and environmental medicine.

The world’s foremost experts in OHS categorically had cited in its reports made available by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), stating among others, “hundreds of millions of people worldwide are harmed each year by their work. Millions more die”.

“This carnage is preventable but only if the protection of workers from harm is given high priority and worker health and safety is recognized as a fundamental human right,” added the Collegium Ramazzinin reports.

And to gain momentum to the decisions adopted during the ILC, the world’s eminent experts recommended that ILO must act at the earliest opportunity to recognize OHS as an ILO Fundamental Right at Work (FRAW), ideally at the 2021 ILO Conference.

Accordingly, the foremost experts on OSH decision were supported by the London-based Society of Occupational Medicine. It urged the ILO Governing Body on its March 23 meeting to act expeditiously to progress the decision made during the 2019 Centenary Conference with a view for inclusion of FRAW to the agenda of the 2021 ILC.

“Giving health and safety the legal status, it deserves will write a historic wrong, and also boost efforts to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control”, said the fiery statement from ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The ITUC Burrow has said, some employers and even governments seem to think that the costs of doing business can be trade off against workers’ lives.

Bringing the issue home. The Philippines have ratified the Promotional Framework for OSH Convention. The instrument of ratification has already been deposited to the ILO on June 17, 2019.

Commendably, the government has contributed to the ILO Centenary Ratification Campaign, being one of the 52 countries with new ratifications and with instruments entering into force in 2019.

But sadly, the government has estimated that 17 of 18 persons in the nation’s workforce of 38.8 million Filipino workers do not benefit from acceptable working conditions.

Studies have shown that OSH conditions in micro-firms and the informal sector pose risks and hazards, the labor department data revealed.

Included in the campaign to ensure safety of workers in the entertainment industry is the proposed measure filed by TUCP Party-list Congressman Raymond DC Mendoza, the so-called Eddie Garcia Bill.

The legendary 90-yearold actor during the taping of an upcoming television series, Rosang Agimat accidentally tripped over a cable, fracturing his neck which left him in comatose, and 12 days after the accident, died.

The issue of OSH is a non-negotiable matter. Is it a bane or boon?