17th International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured Workers - April 28 2012

Tim Tregenza

The International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured Workers, Workers’ Memorial Day, is a major event for trade unions around the world. This year's motto remains the same as last year - ‘Unions make work safer’ but a lot of the focus this year is on the need for strong regulation and enforcement as part of a holistic occupational safety and health system. Organised by the ITUC , the day is used to highlight the human cost of poor working conditions and campaign for decent work.

 The importance of enforcement is clear. What is the main reason for addressing health and safety in Europe’s workplaces? Many reasons are suggested, from economic reasons to demands of clients, but in the EU-OSHA European survey ESENER, it came out clear. Fulfillment of legal obligations is the primary reason for addressing health and safety in Europe’s work establishments. Legislation alone is not enough however; regulation does not work unless it is enforced. Enforcement of health and safety laws are primarily the duty of the national labour inspectorates of the Member States of the European Union. EU-OSHA supports the work of the Senior Labour Inspectors’ Committee (SLIC) in its actions to ensure the effective and consistent implementation of legislation. Yet this is not enough. The ESENER survey examined the reasons for businesses not taking health and safety action, and there it found that the primary barrier for prevention was a lack of awareness of the hazards and risks in the workplaces and the availability of preventive measures. This means that EU-OSHA has to continue its work to raise the awareness of employers as well as workers through actions such as its healthy workplace campaigning.  The latest campaign kicked off on 10 April 2012 focusing on leadership and worker participation.