28 April is a day to remember and honour workers who were injured or died in the course of their work. This year, it is against the background of Covid-19, which has exposed the fragility of the current global occupational health and safety regime as workplaces emerged as hotspots for the transmission of the virus.

The vision of achieving zero harm and zero severe and fatal work-related accidents, injuries and diseases is proving to be a mirage. Employers continue to fail in their duty of care to their workers. The current global health and safety regimes continue to fail workers in what the ILO calls the enormous burden of poor working conditions.

The results of that burden are that:

  • Every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease
  • Every day, 7,600 workers die of work accidents or disease
  • Every week, 5,000 people die from lung disease or cancer due to exposure to asbestos

The social and economic costs of poor working conditions are enormous:

  • The human cost, like the pain and suffering of injury or illness, the suffering caused on family and dependents, the emptiness and emotional loss of family etc
  • Lost production
  • Medical costs
  • Compensation for lost wages
  • Production disturbance
  • Administrative and legal overhead related to legal challenges for negligence and possible fines and or imprisonment

Because of the failure of employers in their duty of care and the staggering costs, It is high time to recognize health and safety as a fundamental right at work.

As we prepare to commemorate and observe a moment’s silence on 28 April, a clarion call is made by the global union? movement for a radical, challenge to the business-as-usual approach to managing occupational health and safety – recognize and make health and safety a fundamental right at work.

IndustriALL Global Union joins the call made on the occasion of the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work in 2019 which declared, “Safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work”. The conference resolution subsequently adopted requested the Governing Body “to consider, as soon as possible, proposals for including safe and healthy working conditions in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work”, in the same way as the eight fundamental ILO Conventions do.

This year on 28 April, we remember the workers and their families, victimes of the following industrial homicides:

Re-posted from IndustriAll.