World Day for Safety and Health at Work – 28 April 2011

The 2011 World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on the implementation of an Occupational Safety and Health Management System (OSHMS) as a tool for continual improvement in the prevention of workplace incidents and accidents. The ILO has prepared a report to serve as a background to this theme, a poster and other promotional materials for the occasion and invites you to join us in promoting this important day.


This year the World Day for Safety and Health at Work focuses on a systems’ approach for the prevention of workplace accidents and the management of OSH with a logical and useful tool for the promotion of the continual improvement of OSH performance at the organization’s level.

As every year, a report has been prepared to serve as a background to this theme. This year, it discusses the application of an Occupational Safety and Health Management System (OSHMS) for the effective management of hazards and risks in the workplace. A poster and other promotional materials for the occasion can also be found on this page.

We invite you to join us in promoting this important date and the theme for this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work:

Occupational Safety and Health Management System: A tool for continual improvement

The essence of occupational safety and health (OSH) is the management of occupational risks. An OSHMS is a preventive method to implement safety and health measures which consists of four steps and incorporates the principle of continual improvement. Its principles are based on the PDCA Cycle: PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT. Its purpose is to establish a comprehensive and structured mechanism for joint action of management and workers in the implementation of safety and health measures. A system’s approach allows for the assessment and improvement of performance in the implementation of preventive and control measures. OSHMS can be an effective tool for the management of hazards specific to a given industry, process or organization. Its application can be adapted to a range of situations, from the simple needs of a small scale enterprise to the multiple needs of hazardous and complex industries such as mining, chemical manufacturing or construction.

OSHMS cannot function properly without the existence of effective social dialogue, whether in the context of joint safety and health committees, or other mechanisms such as collective bargaining arrangements. Key elements for its successful application include ensuring management commitment and active participation of workers in its joint implementation.

During the last decade, occupational safety and health management systems have been widely implemented in both industrialized and developing countries. Their implementation has varied from incorporating legal requirements in national legislation, promoting national guidelines and introducing voluntary certification initiatives. The incorporation of an occupational safety and health management system in the application of preventive and protective measures at the workplace has proven to be essential for the improvement of working conditions and the working environment. As its principle of continual improvement allows for a periodic review of performance, it has been critical in the ultimate scope of preventing occupational accidents and diseases.

The OSH management systems’ approach has retained the attention of enterprises, governments and practitioners, both at national and international levels, for more than a decade. It is expected that more and more countries integrate OSHMS in national OSH programmes as a means to strategically promote the development of sustainable mechanisms for OSH improvements in the organizations.

ILO and OSHMS

The ILO 2001 Guidelines on occupational safety and health management systems (ILO-OSH 2001) became a widely used model for developing national standards in this area. The ILO, with its tripartite structure and its standard-setting role, is the most appropriate body to develop international OSHMS guidelines. The ILO guidelines are fast becoming the most referenced and used model for the development of OSHMS programmes at the national and enterprise level. The ILO is active in providing technical assistance to countries interested in implementing their own OSHMS. Training courses on the subject are also offered by the ILO International Training Centre in Turin, Italy.

This year, SafeWork would like to encourage you to organize activities in your region or country. Events can be organized by national authorities, trade unions, employers’ organizations and safety and health practitioners as well as individual enterprises. You are welcome to adapt the materials by putting them into local languages and context. As in previous years; the focus is on activities in ILO member states. The activities organized by you will contribute to the success of the celebration. We thank you in advance for your commitment to World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

Send activities in your country and/or region related to the World Day for Safety and Health at Work