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IOSH calls for joint effort to address OSH inequalities

Date posted
07 June 2024
Marcus Boocock
Estimated reading time
3 minute read

A joint effort is required to address significant gaps in workplace health and safety standards around the world, IOSH told delegates at a major global conference.

Speaking at the 112th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, IOSH’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs Ruth Wilkinson said “decent work eludes many”, highlighting how two billion informal workers aren’t offered social or legal protections.

She said that a new “social contract” is needed to replace the one drawn up in the mid-20th Century which embeds workplace health, safety and wellbeing at the centre of sustainable business models.

“This should flow from the ILO’s [International Labour Organisation’s] Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work,” she said. “It must improve protections for all workers, including those in disadvantaged groups, those who are vulnerable workers, and those who are particularly vulnerable to labour market exclusion, and long-term unemployment and those who face increasing challenges when going to work where there are unsafe and poor working conditions and practices.”

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Ruth was speaking in the plenary session of the conference on Wednesday 5 June 2024. The event, which lasts for two weeks, is attended by Government, employer and worker representatives from the ILO’s 187 member states and aims to tackle pressing issues that have a long-term impact on the world of work.

The organisers also invite non-governmental organisations like IOSH to participate as observers and with the capacity to engage with key stakeholders.

Ruth added: “Sustained resilient and inclusive growth depends upon fairness and social justice. Yet decent work eludes many, especially those among the world’s two billion informal workers without social and legal protections. Many – including children – are economically, socially, and politically marginalised, subject to forced labour and precarious conditions.

“All actors must embrace the need for collaboration, policy coherence and joint decision making in action to advance just transition to achieving social justice, decent work and fundamental principles and rights at work.

“It is only together that we can foster greater progress. Let us make social justice central to achieving equitable and sustainable growth for all."

During the first week of the conference, IOSH also gave oral statements at committee sessions on fundamental principles and rights at work and decent work and the care economy, and also at the standard-setting committee on biological hazards.

In the second week of the conference, IOSH will also take part at the inaugural Forum of the Global Coalition for Social Justice on 13 June 2024. As a formal signatory of this initiative, IOSH focuses its efforts on OSH-related developments dedicated to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

IOSH is well positioned to support and contribute to collective efforts aligned to the following thematic domains (within our sphere of influence), in which urgent action is required:

  • realising labour rights as human rights, ensuring human dignity and meeting basic needs;
  • and strengthening just transitions and the social dimension of sustainable development, trade and investment.

IOSH’s global work

We work with partner organisations at global, regional, local and workplace level to promote our vision of a safe and health world of work.

Last updated: 14 June 2024

Marcus Boocock

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