The importance of workplace health and safety has been brought into the spotlight on an international level, with the recent announcement of the Seoul Declaration on Safety and Health at Work. This summer, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted the Declaration in an effort to establish a global culture of workplace health and safety. The Declaration was adopted at the recent inaugural Safety & Health Summit, which was attended by international leaders, government ministers, social security representatives, multi-national CEOs, higher level health and safety experts, and employer and worker representatives just prior to the XVIII World Congress on Safety and Health.
The Declaration asserts that it is an undeniable human right to have a safe and healthy working environment. As well, it suggests that improved workplace health and safety conditions should result positively on working conditions, productivity, and economic and social development. In the ILO’s continued efforts to improve workplace health and safety on a global front, the Declaration encourages international governments to consider implementing the ILO’s various initiatives on workplace health and safety.
The Declaration emphasizes the correlation between improved workplace health and safety and improved business performance, encouraging employers to prevent the potential for adverse situations by establishing an effective system for managing occupational health and safety. In doing so, employers should consult with and involve workers during the development and implementation of the workplace health and safety policies and procedures; not only does this make workers feel that their opinions matter, it also allows for unique insights from those who perform the jobs every day. As well, employers are responsible for ensuring that workers have been adequately trained and advised of any health and safety policies and procedures that are involved in their particular jobs.
Finally, the Declaration addresses worker responsibility for workplace health and safety, stating that workers must follow the established health and safety policies and procedures. This includes: actively participating in training sessions and other health and safety activities; strictly adhering to all health and safety rules; using the appropriate and required PPE to protect themselves; and recognizing and reporting any health and safety concerns that may arise to management.
The Declaration presents a well-rounded argument for the establishment, maintenance and implementation of an efficient workplace health and safety program. This Declaration sets a precedent for the promotion of a global culture of healthy and safe working environments, encouraging international employers to make occupational health and safety a top priority. As previously stated, occupational health and safety is a fundamental human right, and international employers should follow the ILO’s adoption of the Declaration in an effort to provide this right to all employees – no matter where they are located on the globe. All people are equal, and their rights to safe and healthy working environments should be as well.
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