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Occupational safety and health (OSH)

Good working conditions are a basic human right and a fundamental part of Decent Work

The ILO estimates that over 2.3 million workers in the world die each year from work-related accidents and diseases, and four per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product are lost due to accidents and poor working conditions. For the CIS countries, about 12 million men and women become victims of occupational accidents every year.
According to the information provided by the Government, in Russia 190 000 people die each year due to work in hazardous conditions, of which 15 000 are due to occupational accidents. Furthermore, 180 000 people are forced to retire early due to work related accidents and diseases. By contrast, official Russian statistics indicate fewer than 4,000 work related accidents and disease fatalities annually. However, this reporting system does not cover small and medium businesses, nor does it count the informal economy. A similar situation is observed in other countries of the region as well.

In the years following the break-up of the Soviet Union, the resources for OSH at enterprises were decreased substantially due to economic problems and, in some cases, to a short-sighted search for fast profits. The need for improved working conditions and proper accident compensation has become increasingly significant. Today the new CIS republics are restructuring their national OSH systems. The reforms involve, first and foremost, modernising the OSH management systems with a new focus on eliminating work place hazards and the inclusion of workers at the enterprise in joint decision making. The pace of change differs significantly across the region, with some countries investing in the future by improving conditions, whereas other countries are not that far.

ILO Moscow emphasises that safe work is good business, an investment in the resources and skills of the work force that leads to improvements in quality and quantity of production. This has a direct positive impact on an enterprise’s competitiveness. We also stress that the previous practice of compensation to those who work in unsafe conditions (so called "hazard pay") is outdated and counterproductive, and that preventive investment in safety increases productivity. We believe that improvement of working conditions has to be based on cooperation between employers and workers at the enterprise – social partnership in OSH – which is a crucial part of a coherent and sustainable OSH management system.

We are working in cooperation with a major network of regional OSH specialists to:

  • develop national and enterprise level OSH management systems aimed at developing a safety culture, based on the ILO Promotional Framework for OSH Convention, 2006 (No.187) and OSH management systems guidelines (ILO OSH 2001);
  • raise awareness of, and commitment to, the need to enhance the safety of workers across the region, of which the 28 April - World Day for Safety and Health at Work – is the most prominent event;
  • disseminate information, through translation and publication of a large body of expert analysis and data, available both in print and electronic format;
  • train and build capacity, by providing technical support for labour ministries, the social partners, universities, training centres and enterprises on OSH issues; and
  • implement demonstration programmes for further replication and stimulation of grass-root initiatives in OSH (Work Improvement in Neighbourhood Development (WIND) programme in Central Asia (PDF, 8.9 MB) and Work Improvement in Small Enterprises (WISE): Package for Trainers (PDF, 2.1 MB)).

ILO Moscow makes OSH activities an integral part of its other efforts in the region involving the work place, including combating child labour, forced labour, and HIV/AIDS; assisting migrant workers; and promoting small and medium sized businesses.

Our aim is to assist our national partners in their efforts to improve the working conditions for all men and women in the region.

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Last update:30.06.2011 ^ top