The right to protection against employment injury is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), 1948, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966. The realization of this right requires the application of safe and healthy working conditions, the prevention, treatment and control of occupational diseases, and the provision of adequate benefits, in cash or in kind, that ensure access to adequate health care and income security to victims of employment injury and their dependent family members.
Protection from employment injury has been the object of a number of Conventions and Recommendations adopted by the ILO from its early days. According to Convention No. 102 (Part VI), any condition that impacts negatively on health and which is due to a work accident or an occupational disease, and the incapacity to work and earn that results from it, whether temporary or permanent, total or partial, must be covered. The protection also includes, where a worker dies as a consequence of an employment injury or occupational disease, the loss of support suffered by her or his dependants.
Accordingly, the provision must include medical and allied care, with a view to maintaining, restoring or improving the health of the injured person and her or his ability to work and attend to personal needs. A cash benefit must also be paid to the injured person or his/her dependants, as the case may be, at a guaranteed level and on a periodic basis, serving an income replacement or support function. Where the disability is slight, the benefit can, under certain conditions, be paid as a lump sum.
The Employment Injury Benefits Convention, 1964 (No. 121), and its accompanying Recommendation, No. 121, set higher standards, mainly in terms of population coverage and level of benefits to be provided. Convention No. 121 also recognizes the importance of an integrated approach for improving working conditions, limiting the impact of employment injuries and facilitating the reintegration of persons with disabilities in the labour market and in society; for such purposes this Convention requires the State to take measures to prevent employment injuries, provide rehabilitation services and ensure that displaced workers find suitable re-employment.