UN fights for safe and healthy work conditions
Experts at the United Nations (UN) recently urged the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to immediately recognize and adopt safe and healthy working conditions as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work.
“Millions of workers around the world suffer from diseases and disabilities due to unsafe and unhealthy conditions of work. It is estimated that approximately two million workers die prematurely each year because of an unsafe or unhealthy workplace,” UN said.
The group pointed out that safe and healthy working conditions have been explicitly recognized under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights since 1966 as a fundamental aspect of the right to just and favorable conditions of work.
However, despite ILO Convention 155, the right to safe and healthy working conditions is not among the “fundamental principles and rights at work” recognized by the ILO, UN said.
The draft “ILO Centenary outcome document”, which is currently under discussion, proposes that ILO recognize occupational safety and health as a fundamental principle and right at work.
The independent experts said States and businesses had repeatedly expressed commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which includes a duty and responsibility to protect the health and safety of workers.
“It is regrettable, however, that some employers and their representative organisations are attempting to block recognition of the right to safe and healthy working conditions as one of ILO’s fundamental rights and principles, calling into question the depth of the private sector’s commitment to respect human rights,” UN further said.