Anticipate, Prepare and Respond to Crises
and Invest Now in Resilient Occupational Health
and Safety systems
It is not uncommon to find some industrial accident, explosion or mishap happening and associated deaths and injuries being reported in the news. Going through such information evokes emotion and worry. Safety and health at work is a culture that organisations and people must build continuously. The mindset the safety norms are to avoid penalisation by the safety inspectors must change. Organisations spend too little on paying attention to enhancing the safety measures at the workplace. Gross disregard to safety norms is not uncommon.
28 April is observed as World Day for Safety and Health at Work”. Such observation provides an opportunity to reflect on preventing work-related occupational diseases, deaths, injuries, and illnesses. It is also a day to remember those who died from a work-related injury or illness. The day also marks the observation of “Workers’ Memorial Day”. The World Day was observed in 2003 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to stress the importance of preventing accidents and diseases at work. When it comes to safety and health at work, there is an urgent need to manage psychological and mental health risks. The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is an awareness-raising campaign that intends to focus international attention on the magnitude of the problem. And on ways of promoting and creating a safe and healthy work culture can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries.
COVID pandemic is now a global crisis, had a profound impact and has touched nearly every aspect of the world of work. Handling the pandemic has led governments, employers, workers, and the general population to face unprecedented challenges and has impacted the world of work. COVID pandemic crisis has also brought to the fore the importance of investing in Public Health Systems and governance. The lessons learnt in handling the COVID pandemic should lay the foundation for strategising to build resilient occupational safety and health, to face crises now and in the future.
The ILO estimates that more than 2.3 million people succumb to work-related accidents every year, which corresponds to over 6000 deaths every day. The ILO estimates indicate an increase in accidents and ill health. In addition to the human cost, the economic burden on societies is enormous. An estimate puts it at 4 per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product each year. The construction industry is one industry that has a disproportionately high rate of recorded accidents is. Younger and older workers are particularly vulnerable. A recent study indicates that around 48,000 workers lose their lives in workplace-related accidents in India: nearly 20 times higher than elsewhere. Many feel that several workplace accidents and deaths go unreported in our society.
All of us come to work to earn a living. If a safe and healthy environment at workplaces is not provided or ensured, what is the purpose of one coming to work? Philosophically speaking, if one departs from the world, it is the family whom one leaves behind who has to bear the brunt. If you love your family, take all the necessary care.
We must encourage everyone to raise awareness about health and safety in the workplace. More importantly, play your role, either as a worker, supervisor or managing the workplace. The way forward is: Finding Value in the work you do, Create, and maintain boundaries, Pause, reflect, and communicate.