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Occupational Safety and Health

Document | 01 September 2010

An estimated 160 million people suffer from work-related diseases and an estimated 337 million fatal and non-fatal work-related accidents occur every year. For workers and their families the consequences are often devastating. Society as a whole also pays—the ILO has estimated that 4% of the world’s annual GDP is lost as a consequence of occupational diseases and accidents.

Many of these tragedies are avoidable through the implementation of sound prevention, inspection and reporting practices. The ILO has adopted more than 40 standards specifically dealing with occupational safety and health (OSH), as well as over 40 Codes of Practice. Enterprises should apply to the greatest possible extent the principles embodied in these standards and Codes of Practice.

Workers, including through their representatives, have an important role to play in ensuring safe workplace practices and cooperation between workers and management is essential. Workers and their representatives should be provided adequate information on safety measures to be taken and given appropriate training.

The ILO MNE Declaration calls on governments to ensure that both multinational and national enterprises provide adequate safety and health standards for their employees. MNEs should maintain the highest standards of safety and health, in conformity with national requirements, bearing in mind their relevant experience within the enterprise as a whole, including any knowledge of special hazards. Enterprises should provide information on their safety and health practices and inform those concerned of any special hazards and related protective measures associated with new products and processes. They also should play a leading role in the examination of causes of industrial safety and health hazards and promote improvements within the enterprise as a whole.

Q&As on Business and OSH

  • Company level OSH management system
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Locking in workers
  • OSH culture of prevention
  • Exposure to hazardous substances
  • Uranium radiation protection
  • Safety supervisors at construction site

Tags: enterprises, occupational safety and health

Regions and countries covered: Global

Unit responsible: Enterprises Department (ENTERPRISES)

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