World Congress on Safety and Health at Work

ILO Director-General: "Work claims more victims than war"

Guy Ryder announces ILO to renew efforts to get compliance for health and safety standards at work around the globe.

News | 26 August 2014
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder at the XX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work
FRANKFURT (ILO News) – Calling for “a culture of intolerance towards risks at work,” International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder told nearly 4,000 participants at the XX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work that safety and health will be an integral part of all the ILO’s work.

Speaking in Frankfurt, Germany to occupational safety experts, politicians and scientists from 141 countries at the world’s largest occupational safety event, Ryder said the ILO would focus on producing a greater impact on the global culture related to safety and health at work and on the ground in workplaces.

“Ebola and the tragedies it is causing are in the daily headlines – which is right. But work-related deaths are not. So, the task ahead is to establish a permanent culture of consciousness,” said Ryder.

Ryder made clear the failure to ensure a safe and healthy workplace constitutes an unacceptable form of work: “This puts safety and health alongside forced labour, child labour, freedom of association and discrimination, which were recognized in the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.”
Ebola and the tragedies it is causing are in the daily headlines – which is right. But work-related deaths are not."


He added that safety and health will be an integral part of all of the ILO’s work, including a spotlight on invisible and vulnerable categories of workers in the informal economy, rural economy and migrant workers.

Sparing human lives, saving money

“The challenge we face is a daunting one. Work claims more victims around the globe than does war: an estimated 2.3 million workers die every year from occupational accidents and diseases,” said Ryder.

He also referred to the direct or indirect cost of occupational illness and accidents at work which the ILO estimates at US$2.8 trillion worldwide. He pointed out that investing in occupational safety and health is also good business. “Every dollar that is invested pays in.”

Ryder also underlined the critical need for good data: “We live in the Information Age where policy-makers have access to data on most issues. But in relation to occupational safety and health we lack data to design and implement evidence-based policies and programmes. That’s a failure – also of political will.”

However, the head of the ILO also sees some encouraging signs. “The importance of efficient labour protection is moving up on global political agendas. At the G20 Leaders Summit held in St. Petersburg in 2013, leaders directed the G20 Task Force on Employment to partner with the ILO to consider how the G20 might contribute to safer workplaces.”

Video highlights of ILO Director-general's address to the XX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work

Calling for “a culture of intolerance towards risks at work,” International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder told nearly 4,000 participants at the XX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work that safety and health will be an integral part of all the ILO’s work.
 

The ILO has for decades been the world’s standard bearer in establishing and promoting international occupational safety and health standards -- with 40 Conventions on OSH -- and a leader in knowledge creation and dissemination on the safety and health of workers and workplaces.

The triennial World Congress on Safety and Health at Work is co-organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA), and is hosted this year by the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV).