World Day for Safety and Health - 28th April

“Safety and health in the use of chemicals at work“ – World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2014equality”

Press release | Colombo, Sri Lanka | 28 April 2014
The ILO commemorates the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on the 28 April to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. It is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health and on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide which claim an estimated 2 million lives per year.

This year’s theme is on “safety and health in the use of chemicals at work”. The production and use of chemical in workplaces around the world present one of the most significant challenges in workplace protection programmes. Chemicals are essential to life and their benefits are widespread and well-recognized and chemicals are also a critical part of many industrial processes to develop products that are important to global standards of living. What create the dilemma are the risks associated with exposure to these chemicals.

Over the years, chemical safety has been one of the areas in which more work has been carried out in the field of occupational safety and health (OSH). However, even if significant progress has been made in recent years concerning the regulation and management of chemicals; and governments, employers and workers continue their efforts to minimize the negative effects of the use of hazardous substances both at national and international levels, serious incidents continue to happen and there are still negative impacts on both human health and the environment. Workers who are directly exposed to hazardous substances should have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment, to be properly informed, trained and protected.

Implementing the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) in a country will address the first step of the sound management of chemicals. The provisions of the GHS support manufacturers and importers being responsible for hazard identification and classification of the health, physical, and environmental hazards of all substances. It also specifies the development of labels and safety data sheets for hazardous substances and mixtures using the harmonized criteria in the GHS, thus helping to ensure that exposed workers have access to information, as well as downstream employers. The task at hand for governments, employers, and workers is to minimize worker exposures and emissions of chemicals into the environment and develop and implement national preventive and control strategies and systems that comprehensively address the health, safety, and environmental aspects related to the use of chemicals to help ensure a coordinated and sustainable management, and Decent Work for all.

ILO Convention on Safety in the use of chemicals at work 1990 (No.170) provides a blueprint for the sound management of chemicals in the workplace. The convention provisions further elaborated in the accompanying recommendation No 177 as well as in the Code of Practice for Safety in the Use of Chemicals at work and a number of training manuals. The convention and other tools are just as relevant today as they were when initially adopted.

In parallel to the global campaign ILO in Sri Lanka will conduct an awareness workshop on “Safety and health in the use of chemicals at work” to commemorate the World Day for Safety and Health on 28th April 2014 in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Labour Relations, National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), Employer Federation of Ceylon and Trade Unions on 28th at April 2014.