World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Investment in OSH systems and in social dialogue should go hand in hand

ILO Bangladesh Country Director, Tuomo Poutiainen's message was published in several national newspapers on World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2022.

Comment | Dhaka | 28 April 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of workplace safety and health in protecting the workforce and in ensuring continuity of economic activities. Many workplaces with strong occupational safety and health (OSH) culture and systems in place have shown positive resilience by taking proactive steps to safeguard their work environment and cope with the devastation caused by the pandemic.

A strong OSH system requires meaningful participation of governments, employers, workers, public health actors and all relevant parties at national and enterprise levels. The collaboration among these actors is essential for ensuring that the preventive measures for managing workplace hazards are acceptable and supported by employers and workers, and to be effectively implemented in practice.

It is heartening to see that in Bangladesh, the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations are working together to continue strengthening of the OSH institutional and regulatory frameworks and the OSH management system.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment recently published the first National Plan of Action on OSH (2021-2030) which includes strategies for stronger enforcement of workplace safety and health in all industries. The National Profile on OSH, which summarizes the existing OSH policies, laws, institutions and situation in the country, was updated last year.

At the onset of the pandemic, the government introduced a National OSH Guideline on COVID-19 to help organizations create safe return-to-work conditions.

The ILO’s ‘Improving Working Conditions in the Ready-made Garment Industry’ programme, funded by the Netherlands and Canada, collaborated with the government, employers, workers’ organizations and other stakeholders to provide technical support for the development of these crucial policy instruments for Bangladesh.

Now is the time to reap the fruit of these policies through their effective implementation across all industries.

At enterprise level, a strong OSH culture is created through active involvement of both management and workers in the ongoing improvement of safety and health at work. This requires open communication and dialogue built on trust and mutual respect. Social dialogue between all parties can facilitate the process by providing a safe platform to discuss and find responses to difficult situations related to safety and health in the workplace.

Therefore, investing in OSH systems and in social dialogue should go hand in hand for managing workplace hazards and any future crises that might lie ahead.

Safe and healthy working conditions are fundamental to decent work. Let us continue to act together and move towards creating a safe and healthy work culture for all Bangladeshis.