GENEVA (ILO News) – Experts representing workers, employers and governments, meeting at the International Labour Organization (ILO), have adopted a new draft Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Agriculture designed to improve working conditions in agriculture which employs some one billion workers worldwide.
The new draft Code was adopted by 15 government, employer and worker experts following a five-day meeting here and is to be submitted to the ILO Governing Body in March 2011 for endorsement.
The overall objective of the new Code is to help promote a more preventive occupational safety and health (OSH) culture in agriculture which employs more than a third of the world’s labour force, second only to services. It complements the ILO’s Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention 2001 (No.184), and its supplementing Recommendation (No.192), and provides further guidance for their application in practice.
Agriculture is the largest sector for female employment in many countries, especially in Africa and Asia, and accounts for approximately 70 per cent of child labour worldwide.
The draft Code would raise awareness of the hazards and risks associated with agriculture and their effective management and control; prevent occupational accidents and diseases and improve the working environment in practice; encourage governments, employers, workers and other stakeholders to cooperate to prevent accidents and disease; and promote more positive attitudes and behaviour towards OSH in agriculture throughout the sector.
Agriculture involves a wide range of different types of machinery, animals, plants and products, and agricultural enterprises range from subsistence farming to highly mechanized large scale businesses.
“Such wide-ranging profiles, both in terms of employment and of enterprise, have a significant bearing on levels of risk awareness and attitudes towards preventing accidents and diseases within the sector. Agriculture is in fact one of the most hazardous of all sectors and many agricultural workers suffer occupational accidents and ill-health each year”, says Elizabeth Tinoco, Director of the ILO’s Sectoral Activities Programme.
The new Code would establish a national framework specifying the roles of the competent authorities, employers, workers and their organizations contain specific provisions for identifying and addressing the main hazards and risks in the sector.
ILO codes of practice are intended for the use by both the public and private sectors with responsibility for safety and health management in relation to specific occupational hazards, sectors of activity, or equipment. Importantly, codes of practice are not intended to replace national laws or regulations or accepted standards.