On 28 April each year, International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) is a time to remember those who have died because of a workplace accident, ill health or diseases as a result of work.

Health and Safety Executive annual statistics show on average each year 135 workers are killed in work related accidents. They also estimate 13,000 deaths each year from occupational lung disease and cancer caused by exposure at work to chemicals and dust (such as asbestos or silica). Safety campaigners estimate that the true yearly figure for all work-related deaths is closer to 50,000.

Unions world-wide demand that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopts occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work.

As three years have passed since they agreed this would be done, the International Trades Union Confederation (ITUC) and affiliates, call on governments to ratify and implement core ILO health and safety conventions and all sectoral or hazard-specific conventions. Establishing national health and safety bodies bringing unions and employer representatives together.

Where unions are consulted workplaces are safer and healthier.

Every working person should know they have the right to expect everything is done to keep them safe. It’s as important as freedom of association, elimination of forced labour, child labour and employment discrimination. In that time around 8.1 million people have died as a result of their work worldwide, and even more suffer life-altering injuries and illnesses because their employer did not protect them. “We need the ILO to do more and address challenges like stress at work, muscular-skeletal disorders and a convention on biological hazards like Covid-19. It is urgent that Covid-19 is recognised for the workplace threat that it is. Health and safety should be the first priority at work, not an occasional after thought,” concluded ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Jobs Shouldn’t Kill – Make Workplace Health & Safety a Fundamental Right #IWMD22
Glenn Bayliss
Secretary – Cheltenham & District Trades Union Council
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