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Occupational safety and health

ILO adopts a revised code of practice on safety and health in construction

More than 229 million construction workers may benefit from the new code, particularly in countries where construction is contributing to the post-COVID-19 recovery.

Press release | 01 March 2022
GENEVA (ILO News) – More than 229 million construction workers around the globe may benefit from a revised and updated code of practice on safety and health, adopted by International Labour Organization (ILO) experts from government and employers’ and workers’ organizations.

The updated code, discussed during a five-day meeting of experts (21-25 February), could play an important role in countries where construction is an economic engine for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and where urbanization rates and population growth are highest. It can also improve the attractiveness of the sector to future generations of women and men.

The code of practice builds on the previous 1992 code, as well as on International Labour standards, in particular the Safety and Health in Construction Convention, 1988 (No. 167) and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 175), and other sectoral codes.

This revised code takes account of new areas in the sector which require improved health and safety practices and other protective measures in view of the changes in working practices and conditions in the construction industry over the past decades. Key revisions introduced to the code of practice underline the importance of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) management systems, maternity protection and waste and emissions management.

© Greg Younger
“With many decades of experience in promoting occupational safety and health, I truly reaffirm the importance of social dialogue. We now have a revised code of practice for the construction sector thanks to the outstanding contributions of employers, workers and government experts," said Jukka Takala, chair of the meeting of experts that adopted the code.

“I am convinced that the revised ILO Code of Practice will provide key practical guidance throughout the construction project cycle in order to protect workers in the construction sector,” said Mónica Tepfer, worker vice-chair. “We want to acknowledge the aspirational scope of the adopted code with new provisions covering environmental sustainability, which is becoming a key priority for workers in the sector.”

Construction enterprises and workers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet construction holds much potential to stimulate recovery, including job creation. In turn, recovery measures can support the sector’s contribution to a just, sustainable transition to greener economies.

“This revised code will provide practical guidance to assist employers and workers in the construction sector in conducting risk assessments and organizing business operations with prevention as a first priority, which is key to boost the productivity and employment potential of the sector as we kick start from the crisis,” said John Beckett, employers’ vice-chair.

Joint estimates released in 2021 from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) called for greater commitment to prevent work-related diseases and injuries, which were responsible for the deaths of 1.9 million people in 2016. Many of the findings around the 19 occupational risks factors identified are relevant for improving workplace health and safety in the construction sector.

“With this revised code of practice on safety and health, we are now equipped with up-to-date occupational safety and health (OSH) tools and approaches that the construction sector will need for strengthening both national and sectoral OSH systems,” said the government vice-chair, Luiz Rocha.

Director of the ILO Sectoral Policies Department, Alette van Leur said, “The new Code of Practice will contribute to a human-centred recovery from the pandemic by strengthening OSH in the construction sector. It will enable the sector to face unforeseen challenges in the future and protect the safety and health of workers – while supporting the survival and business continuity of enterprises."