27/04/2010

15th International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers

Tim Tregenza

April 28 is the 15th International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers with the theme unions make work safer. The day is used to remember those who died as a result of work around the world and to campaign for better working conditions. If, according to the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, "safety and health at work is not only sound economic policy, it is a basic human right", then many men and women are having their fundamental rights denied.

Worker participation in occupational safety and health is vital for succesful prevention. This holds true not just in the workpalce, but also at national and international levels where social partners are central to the successful planning, implementation, and evaluation of occupational safety and health policies.

Analysis here at EU-OSHA - a tripartite organisation - identifies the importance of workers' involvement in occupational safety and health. In analyses of case studies, worker involvement is identified as a success factor. "Generally, worker involvement in any given project is a decisive factor... participation is fundamental to effective risk prevention". This is borne out by the first results of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) where it seems that risk assessment is more likely to happen where there is a health and safety representative.

Worker participation and the role of worker safety representatives will be the subject of further study by EU-OSHA, in the context of both further analysis of ESENER and also in the preparation of practical materials for future healthy workplace campaigns.

More information on the can be found on the international workers' memorial day on the Hazards site.