Opening Remarks at World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2005

by Mr Shinichi Hasegawa, Regional Director of ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Statement | Bangkok | 28 April 2005

I am honoured to welcome you to World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2005. As you have just seen in the video, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has provided us with his strong support to promote safety and health at work. I would also like to thank our Thai friends, especially Mr Taweep Karnchanawong, President of Thai Labour Museium, who has jointly organized this important event. I am delighted to see the participants from the government, trade unions and employers’ organizations together. Strengthening tripartite cooperation is the key to build safe and healthy workplaces.

The protection of workers against disease and injury related to their work is a central issue for the ILO. The Director-General of the ILO, Juan Somavia, has recently declared, “Decent Work must be Safe Work”. We have been concerned how we can reach all workers to help them enjoy safe and healthy work environments in the globalizing economy.

Unfortunately, still many developing countries in our region are experiencing an increase in occupational accidents and diseases as a result of rapid industrialization. The ILO estimates the worldwide fatality level from work-related injuries and diseases to be about 2 million annually. While annual rates of such injuries and diseases are declining slowly in most industrialized countries, they are on the increases in developing countries. The poorest, the least protected, the least informed, and the least trained are the most affected. Women, children, disabled workers, migrant workers, workers in the rural and informal economy and ethnic minority people are often involved.

Nowadays, safety and health hazards and risks are changing. Old problems such as toxic chemicals, noise, repetitive and monotonous work remain a serious threat to workers’ safety and health in many workplaces. In addition, atypical employment, irregular working time, homework, and outsourcing are posing new challenges to us. Education, training and awareness-raising campaigns are all effective tools in creating a sustainable safety culture everywhere.

To respond to the emerging safety and health needs worldwide, the ILO adopted a new global strategy on occupational safety and health at the 91st Session of the International Labour Conference in 2003. The strategy stresses the importance of strong leadership and visible commitments to high safety and health standards. All people at the workplace, not only specific technical units, need to be included in assessing their safety and health risks and proposing safer and healthier work environments.

Our gathering today is an important step to further advance occupational safety and health protection for Thai workers. Many delegates today have spent a lot of efforts to build safe and healthy work environments and taken practical improvement actions at the workplace. The ILO is ready to join you in the commitment to help workers and employers improve safety and health. I wish all partners and organizations involved every success in the work towards our common goal: Safe and Healthy Work for All. Thank you.