ILO holds training workshop on Occupational Safety and Health for social partners in Iraq

The workshop aimed to strengthen the role of employers' and workers' organizations in the field of OSH, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Press release | 27 September 2021
Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (ILO News) The ILO held a four-day workshop in Erbil to build the capacities of representatives of employers’ and workers’ organizations of the Federal of Iraq and Kurdistan Region of Iraq on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) mechanisms, as part of wider efforts to promote decent work, in line with national legislation and international labour standards.

The training, which was conducted in collaboration with the Peace and Freedom Organization, took place between September 24-27, bringing together 30 workers’ and employers’ representatives from across Iraq including the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. ILO’s efforts to strengthen the labour inspection and OSH systems in Iraq falls under the framework of a project entitled “Enhancing labour governance, inspection and working conditions in response to COVID-19” which is supported by the European Union.

The training familiarised participants on basic concepts, principles and guidelines related to OSH and focused on different potential occupational safety and health hazards associated with the workplace, especially in light of COVID-19. It also highlighted key areas related to guidelines on OSH management systems, as well as the role and responsibilities of authorities, including OSH inspectors in promoting health and safety in the workplace. It also addressed the legislative framework for Occupational Safety and Health in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and discussed ways to develop related policies and procedures.

During the sessions, Dr. Amin Alwreidat, the ILO Regional Advisor on Labour Inspection and OSH, spoke about the fundamental principles and rights at work and the International Labour Standards on OSH and highlighted relevant good practices in the Arab region. He also spoke about work-related diseases and epidemics, including COVID-19, highlighting their causes, modes of transmission, workplace effects, means of control and prevention and relevant responsibilities of governments and workers’ and employers’ organizations.

Abdullah Khalid, Director of the Peace and Freedom Organization, said: “There are challenges faced in terms of occupational safety and health which we addressed this week with representatives of workers and employers organizations (…) Through this workshop, participants gained new knowledge, which can help them analyse the reality on the ground and suggested ways to promote OSH in Iraq and KRI.”

“These workshops are always useful as they enlighten us with modern knowledge,” said Sadiq Ramadan Hassan, a member of the Kurdistan United Workers Union and labour inspector who attended the workshop. “The workshop used a modern approach which allowed everyone to play a proactive part, and it was not merely a lecture, which we listened to. It also helped us in broadening our understanding of international standards, which will help us in our field of work.”

In addition, the EU-supported project is developing a national OSH policy and programme, which will include reviewing, updating and validating the national labour inspection and OSH policies.

“Improving the working conditions of agricultural workers is a key priority for the ILO in Iraq,” said Racha Elassy, ILO Chief Technical Advisor. “We are working with our stakeholders to pilot interventions on specific farms that will promote decent working conditions and improve compliance with national legislation and International Labour Standards. The plan is to afterward facilitate coordination between labour and OSH inspectors, employers’ and workers’ organizations through establishing and operationalizing national tripartite committees on labour inspection and OSH and which will actively involve workers’ and employers’ organizations.”

For more information, see: Enhancing labour governance, inspection and working conditions in response to COVID-19