Health and safety recognised as a fundamental right by ILO
The right to a safe and healthy work environment has been enshrined in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
After years of campaigning by workers globally, the right to a healthy and safe workplace has been adopted as a new fundamental right at this year’s International Labour Conference in Geneva.
This principle now sits alongside the right of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced labour, the abolition of child labour, and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
ACTU President Michele O’Neil, who spoke at the ILO conference, said that although this was an incredible achievement, more work needed to be done to improve occupational safety and health.
“Health and safety at work goes beyond physical injuries and includes risks to workers’ psychological health,” she said.
“Work-related mental health conditions are the fastest growing injury type in Australia. Our work must include eliminating psychological risk factors, including high workloads, poor work support, as well as gendered violence and harassment, if we want to continue making work safe and healthy.”
It is estimated that in the Asia–Pacific region there are more than 1.1 million deaths each year from work-related trauma or disease.
In Australia, 200 workers die at work each year. A further 5000 workers will die from occupational diseases, including asbestos-related disease and silicosis.