Keynote address at Solaire's annual World Day for Safety and Health at Work

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at Solaire's annual World Day for Safety and Health at Work, 28 April 2023, Manila, Philippines

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 28 April 2023
  • DOLE Undersecretary Benavidez,
  • Solaire Vice-President Delvenakiotis,
  • OSHC Engineer Paraiso,
  • ECC Executive Director Batino,
  • The management, workers and partners of Solaire,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga (good morning)!
Today’s annual World Day Safety and Health at Work reminds us of the importance of occupational safety and health or OSH.

Every day, 8,000 people die from work-related accidents and diseases around the world.

One death is too many but what about these thousands of workers with children, families and loved ones waiting for them to come home safe, healthy and alive?

Implementing a safe and healthy working environment is crucial. The International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) included it in the fundamental principles and rights at work.

Safe and healthy workplaces are no longer an option or a moral choice. It is a fundamental right.

All 186 ILO member States, including the Philippines must respect, promote and achieve this, whether or not they have ratified the relevant Conventions.

Workplace tragedies and accidents have highlighted the significance of OSH. It is a concern not only for the workplace, but also for public health and safety.

The COVID-19 pandemic, the Rana Plaza fire that killed and injured thousands of garment workers, and the Kentex fire in the Philippines underscore the need for a preventive safety and health culture.

No one should die, be injured or become ill and lose years of productive life, by trying to make a living.

Everyone benefits from safe and healthy workplaces not just workers, their families and their communities. Safe and healthy workplaces benefit companies in terms of staff recruitment and retention, productivity, positive reputation and enhanced risk management.

Promoting a preventive safety and health culture is not solely the government’s responsibility. Large companies like yours have a major role to promote OSH internally, throughout your supply chain and in local communities. The importance of today's gathering is a crucial step in this direction.

For ongoing improvement, OSH management must be participative, inclusive and transparent. Social dialogue and strong cooperation between workers and management are essential. This will expand OSH management systems beyond workplace accidents.

They can monitor and address less visible issues like occupational diseases, near misses, mental health and wellbeing, violence and harassment affecting vulnerable workers like youth, women, persons with disabilities, or workers under certain contract types or suppliers.

Large companies can help strengthen OSH systems as a public health concern. Either through sharing expertise with local governments or information for better monitoring or reporting coordination on accidents, injuries or diseases, or partnering to promote OSH in communities.

To avoid workplace accidents, injuries and diseases, governments, employers and workers must build a preventive safety and health culture. It requires workplace and industry engagement.

Today’s gathering should convey that as we build a preventive safety and health culture, promote decent work and advance social justice. I wish you all a successful and fruitful discussion.

Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!