As countries are transitioning to green economy, the International Labour Organization today underlined the need for countries to pay attention to promote and create a safe working environment as two million people die every year from work-related accidents and diseases.
ILO reports that 160 million people suffer from work-related diseases, 270 million fatal and non-fatal work-related accidents occur e very year, and four per cent of the world’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) is lost as a consequence of occupational diseases and accidents.
ILO stresses that protecting the safety and health of workers across the world must be part of transitioning into a green economy.
ILO also warns that while sustainable jobs may protect the environment and create new employment opportunities, they may also present a number of unforeseen risks for individuals.
“Occupational safety and health is embedded in the goal of decent work and decent work for all is central to the social pillar of sustainable development.” – Director-General of the International Labour Organization Juan Somavia
In the event marking the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which is observed annually on 28 April, Mr. Somavia underlined that the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June will provide countries an opportunity to focus on the promotion of safer workplaces as part of an inclusive approach to sustainable development.
He says experience has already shown that some substances while being more environmentally friendly could be more hazardous to workers’ health.
He adds that renewable energies, waste management and recycling, as well as the greening of traditional industries must be approached from the outset with an eye on the occupational safety with the aim of eliminating old hazards and preventing new ones from emerging.
To mark the Day, ILO also launched a report that looks at different green industries from an occupational safety and health perspective.
“Moving towards a green economy implies setting higher standards for environmental protection while, at the same time, incorporating workers’ safety and health as an integral part of the strategy.” – Director of the ILO Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment Seiji Machida
Work-related accicdents are reportedly high in construction trades where a worker has a five-time greater risk of dying on the job than non-construction industries.
Construction workers, even if not killed, also were found to have a 75 percent greater likelihood of suffering injures that cause them to miss work in a career lasting from age 20 to age 65.
The ILO is a specialized agency of the UN promoting of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights and is headquartered in Geneva. Founded in 1919, it is the only major creation of the Treaty of Versailles, which brought the League of Nations into being, to survive. It became the UN’s first specialized agency in 1946.
It is composed of 28 government members, 14 employer members and 14 worker members. Ten of the government seats are held permanently by states of chief industrial importance. Representatives of other member countries are elected at the Conference every three years, taking into account geographical distribution. The employers and workers elect their own representatives respectively.