Occupational Safety and Health

ILO: National OSH systems

The long term objective to improve working conditions in a systematic way is through the establishment and implementation of national OSH programmes. In order to ensure a coherent and effective use of scarce resources, and also to better coordinate efforts, this approach includes a number of logical steps.

On national level, the ILO Moscow is using the new methodology to:
  • prepare a national OSH profile with the participation of all involved ministries and OSH institutions, trade unions and employers’ organisations
  • reviewing all the components of a national OSH system; strengths and needs for improvement with the aim to
  • formulate a national OSH programme and plan of action approved by the highest state authority and the social partners as the base for future cooperation
The development of a national OSH system is supported by the creation of OSH management systems at the enterprises. The ILO OSH 2001 is the only international guideline for OSH management systems, not very different from the GOST system, but emphasising the social partnership component to a higher degree for the cost-effective improvement of good working conditions.

National OSH Profile

The preparation of a National OSH Profile is an essential initial step in the process of building a good national safework programme. The profile is an inventory of all the tools and resources available in a country to implement and manage OSH designed to provide the data necessary for setting national priorities for action aimed at progressive and continual improvement of workplace safety and health.

The implementation steps envisaged for an adequate establishment of National SafeWork Programmes indicate the place of the National profile as well as the intended goal of safework programmes. The profile analyses the five essential components in a national OSH system.

More in ILO Methodology (PDF, 120KB)

Components of a system

National OSH programmes

Effective implementation of OSH requirements at the national and enterprise levels can be achieved successfully only through the full involvement of the social partners in the sustained process of continual action, review and improvement.

The long term objective to deliver OSH capacity building assistance to the tripartite constituents through the establishment and implementation of national OSH programmes or National SafeWork Programmes is the ILO’s response to this need. In order to ensure a coherent and effective use of scarce resources, and also to better coordinate efforts, the programme approach includes a number of logical steps to be followed before appropriate action is taken.

OSH management system

The core skill of an employer is to manage his/her business. A crucial part of proper management is safe and decent working conditions assisting in producing high quality and productivity with a motivated and skilled working force.

ILO has elaborated ILO OSH 2001, an OSH management system to assist both countries and enterprises to include OSH and social dialogue into the overall management. The ILO believes strongly in the effectiveness of a tripartite OSH management system, both on national and enterprise level.

The ILO Guidelines provide for the establishment of a national framework for occupational safety and health (OSH) management systems, preferably supported by national laws and regulations. Action at national level includes the nomination of a competent institution for OSH-MS, the formulation of a coherent national policy and the establishment of a framework for an effective national application of ILO-OSH 2001, either by means of its adaptation to national conditions and practice.

More in ILO OSH 2001 (Guidelines on OSH management systems) - English (PDF, 287KB), Russian (PDF, 1.3MB), Georgian (PDF, 172KB), Armenian (PDF, 528KB).

Social Partnership in OSH

The whole international experience shows that, since the unified system of OSH involves several parties with different interests, the most effective way to resolve OSH issues, however powerful the legislative component of the system may be, is still negotiations held within an organization to look for solutions together - everything we include into the concept of "social partnership". Social partnership in OSH benefits both partners: joint contribution to the improvement of working conditions leads to higher productivity and better quality which is important for employers and at the same time helps protect employees' health. And the other way round: poor working conditions with their "free milk" and a small pay surplus harm employees' health and are a long-term liability for the employer.

More in Social Partnership in OSH (Russian) (PDF, 72KB), (Armenian) (PDF, 563KB), (Azerbaijan) (PDF, 1.5MB).

Labour Inspection (LI)

"Labour legislation without inspection is an essay in ethics rather than a binding social discipline" ILO Director General, 1996

The major task of the labour inspection is to supervise the implementation of the OSH legislation. ILO Convention 81 on Labour Inspection ensures the right of free access for labour inspectors to all places of work, at any time. Any restrictions limit severely the right of the workers to safe working conditions. The right to access of course places a special demand on the skills and integrity of the individual labour inspector.

In most countries with effective labour inspection, inspectors seek to carefully balance persuasion and coercion. Experience shows that effective persuasion of employers to adopt preventive and protective practices and hence progressive safety policies achieves the most cost-effective and lasting results. Advice, information and publicity in most labour inspection systems go far beyond merely supplying technical counsel on safety and health matters.

In many countries in transition, there are too many laws and too little compliance. Good OSH management systems at enterprises, combined with social dialogue in safety commissions and an effective labour inspection is beneficial for all.

More in "Labour inspection. A guide to the profession". Wolfgang Von Richthofen (PDF, 1.5MB), C81 Labour Inspection Convention and C129 Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention (PDF, 1.8MB).

Costs of unsafe work

Safe working conditions are a part of normal quality and production management. Providing adequate working conditions is an investment in the human resources and skills of the work force at the enterprise, in quality and productivity and not an extra cost. On the contrary, poor working environment costs money for the enterprise and the society in the form of increased costs of hazard pay and added leave for work force employed in sub-standard working conditions, for personal protective equipment, for compensation costs for accidents and diseases and lost days of production and quality. Furthermore, hazardous working conditions can lead to personal disasters, loss of family members, social exclusion and child labour. ILO Moscow has prepared a brochure "Reduce risks – cut costs. Economics and OSH on an enterprise” (PDF 536KB) “. The brochure contains basic information about relations between expenses of an enterprise and working conditions. A Calculator of costs of accidents helps to calculate a real cost of accidents showing visible and hidden costs.