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World Day for Safety & Health at Work 2021

Outline of a person stood in an office by a fire exit door, taken from an iHASCO training course.

The 28th April 2021, marks the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which aims to promote safe working practices around the world. 

First upheld in 2003, this year will specifically focus on the need for investment in resilient occupational health and safety systems, in light of the global pandemic. The aim of the yearly campaign is to highlight that all workers should be afforded protection from illness, injuries and diseases resulting from their occupation. Health and safety is therefore a basic workplace right and no-one should risk losing their life to go to work. Something that has been even more significant over the last year where frontline workers have put themselves at risk. 

The ILO estimates that work-related accidents or diseases worldwide amounts to the death of 2.78 million people each year. This staggeringly high figure shows the need to significantly improve occupational health and safety records across the globe. Whilst the UK has one of the best health and safety records in the world, the 2019/20 HSE figures show there’s more to be done to keep people safe at work. On top of that, the Coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated a negative impact on workers across the globe, in terms of their health and safety. Some of the issues affecting workers include, insufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), an increase in depression and anxiety and greater exposure to infection due to their role. It is important to learn from the current crisis, in order to be more resilient to any future incidents. Investment in occupational health and safety is key to being able to develop safer working environments now and in the future. 

Building safe and healthy workplaces 

The ILO have published a report, Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises, invest now in resilient OSH systems, which draws on examples from the COVID pandemic to examine risk prevention and management in the workplace. It highlights the negative impact particularly on those working in the health and social care sector, as well as the health concerns arising from the huge increase in homeworking. This understanding is going to be crucial for being prepared for future crises. 

This report examines elements of a strong and resilient OSH system. It provides examples from the COVID-19 pandemic to highlight the way in which OSH systems can build strength following a crisis, enabling them to face unforeseen challenges in the future and protect the safety and health of workers – while supporting the survival and business continuity of enterprises. It aims to raise awareness of this need for a resilient system and to serve as a reference for national authorities, employers, workers and their organizations, OSH practitioners and other interested parties. 

ILO report, Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises, invest now in resilient OSH systems.

Whilst governments, businesses and employees have played a role in minimising the spread of the virus, it has significantly impacted the health and safety of those at work. Aside from the potential of catching the virus at work, other risks as a result of the pandemic have included work-related stress, violence, harassment and mental health issues. OSH professionals around the world have responded to the crisis and it has caused many to implement positive solutions to the outcome of some of these negative effects. 

A hand sanitiser dispensing unit at the entrance of an office.

Read IOSH magazine’s article, SafeDay 2021: Building resilience, for a greater insight into some specific examples of how COVID-19 has proved that OSH is critical to businesses and how those in the OSH profession have responded. You can also read about iHASCO’S response to the pandemic, and how workplace controls have been implemented not only to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus but also to protect employee mental health and wellbeing.

Workplace Training

Ensuring you create a strong health and safety culture within your organisation is only going to strengthen your business. Online workplace training can play a vital role in raising awareness and educating your employees about many key issues relating to their safety and wellbeing at work. Request free instant access to our course library today to find out how our workplace training can benefit your organisation. 

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