MSMEs have a responsibility to manage generated waste and promote occupational safety and health at work

Keynote address by Mr Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director and Officer-in-Charge, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi, for the ILO-FICCI Gujarat webinar on World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2023

Statement | ONLINE | 28 April 2023
It is my pleasure be here today and deliver the key note address on this very important topic of Occupational Safety and Health in MSMEs on the occasion of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2023. I see that members from the industry, particularly manufacturers from the micro, small and medium enterprises have gathered here today. A very warm welcome to each one of you!

A major contribution to the industrial output in India is from MSMEs. At present, the 63 million MSMEs in India account for close to 30 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). At the same time MSMEs also are a major contributor to the waste that is generated in the country. The way production is organized and waste is managed in the MSMEs has direct implications on occupational safety and health as well as environmental health. Improper waste management can have debilitating impact on the safety and health of those engaged in production and at the same time harm the air, water, food chain and the physical environment affecting the society at large.

More recently, efforts of the government and industry have been focussed on around greening through adoption of green technologies and promoting environment friendly actions as well as sound waste management. Green jobs and safety and health of the workers in the sector have been promoted by the application of relevant ILO guidelines, for example, December 2020 guidelines on ‘Practical measures to help employers and workers prevent and mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 in the waste collection services’.

It is also important to address the occupational safety and health issues through the key ILO OSH instruments applicable to the sector, including: C155 on Occupational Safety and Health, 1981; C187 on Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health, 2006; and C170, the Chemicals Convention, 1990.
In June 2022, the International Labour Conference decided to include “a safe and healthy working environment” in the ILO’s framework of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. The member states of ILO are now expected to respect, realise and promote the Principles and the two OSH Convention C 155 and C 187 as its fundamental Conventions. On the World Day for Safety and Health at Work today, I urge upon all of you present here to celebrate and embrace this historical decision. Let us all work towards promoting safety and health at work. Let us think of concrete and practical ways in which this right can become a reality in the world of work.

Emphasis on safety and health in the world of work has also been seen during the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers and businesses engaged in waste management are essential workers contributing to the society, even under the pandemic. The pandemic has amplified the demand by social partners and UN, for effective waste management towards enabling safety and health for all.

ILO’s centenary declaration emphasises on the criticality of safe and healthy working conditions as being fundamental to decent work. ILO firmly believes that promotion of green jobs in MSMEs can foster a low-carbon, environment-friendly, safe and healthy economy towards sustainable consumption and production. Managed well, transitions to environmentally and socially sustainable economies can realize decent work, social justice and poverty eradication.

With these words, once again, I welcome all of you and hope you will have fruitful discussions.