World Day for Safety and Health - 28th April

“Join us in Building a Culture of Prevention on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)” – World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2015”

Press release | Colombo, Sri Lanka | 28 April 2015
COLOMBO (ILO) News: Working in hazardous conditions is a daily routine and unseen affair for many workers. The numbers are striking. Over 313 million workers suffer non-fatal occupational injuries and 2.3 million people die each year from occupational injuries. Work-related accidents or diseases can definitely be placed in the high-burden category of all global health problems.

A long-standing International Labour Organization (ILO) priority, occupational safety and health was recognized as a fundamental human right in the 2008 Seoul Declaration on Safety and Health at Work. It is high time for this human right to be transformed into reality for workers everywhere. The ILO, together with the Ministry of Labour, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) and trade unions commemorated the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on the 28th of April in Colombo. This year the theme was “building a culture of prevention on OSH”. The campaign intended to focus attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health and on the magnitude of work-related injuries.

A national occupational safety and health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels, where governments, employers, and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defined rights, responsibilities and duties, and where the highest priority is accorded to the principle of prevention. At national level, building and maintaining such a culture requires making use of all available means to increase general awareness, knowledge of hazards and risks, and understanding of their prevention and control. Tripartite national commitment and national action are essential in fostering lasting improvements in safety and health at work.
Addressing the gathering, ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr. Donglin Li, said “If a job is done freely but exposes the worker to health hazards, it is not decent work, if the contract of employment is fair but the work impairs the workers’ health and wellbeing, it is not decent work. Decent Work must be Safe Work. This is why the ILO and its constituents must be leaders in promoting safety and health at work. Together we must create the partnerships that are needed to bring about the changes we seek in building a culture of prevention on OSH”.

Mr. Gotabaya Jayarathna, Secretary, State Ministry of Labour said the overall situation of OSH has been improved in recent years and as a country we have a long journey ahead. He stressed that there is much work to be done to enforce a national legislation, such as implementation of ILO recommendations on OSH to achieve the requirements. Mr. Jayarathna also congratulated ILO for the initiatives and commitment to promote a culture of occupational safety and health within Sri Lanka.

Director General, EFC, Mr. Ravi Peiris, stated safety is one of the preconditions in life and needs to be looked upon very seriously. During its 86 years of existence, EFC has always remained a socially responsible organisation. Safety and health at work is continuously given top priority by its members.

General Secretary of Sri Lanka Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya, Mr. Leslie Devendra, stressed that occupational safety and health has become a high priority in a world in which more lives are lost and more people are injured due to industrial accidents than natural disasters. There are emerging health issues arising due to new methods used in the world of work, and as trade unions, this is a key concern for us.


From left to right:
Mr. Ravi Peiris, Director General, Employers Federation of Ceylon, Mr. S.M.Gotabaya Jayarathna, Secretary, State Ministry of Labour, Mr. Donglin Li, ILO country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr. Leslie Devendra, General Secretary, Sri Lanka Nidahas Sewaka Sangamaya and Dr Champika Amarasinghe, Director, National Institute of Occupation & Health