Good practice

Practices with good potential - Towards the elimination of hazardous child labour

This publication is a companion volume of the "Children in Hazardous Work: What we know, what we need to do" report, outlines the problem of hazardous work and highlights possible solutions. Although it is too early to say, in most cases, that the activities included here are proven "good practices" ready for emulation, nonetheless items in this selection have already demonstrated some unique or notable elements.

With 115 million children still caught in hazardous child labour, the elimination of the worst forms of child labour (WFCL) by 2016 is more important than ever before. In 2006, the International Labour Conference,1 concerned about the slow pace of eradicating child labour among its member States, set the 2016 target in order to focus attention on the worst forms, of which hazardous work is the largest part. In doing so, it urged the countries to adhere to the commitments they had made when ratifying ILO Convention No. 182 to address the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency.

In recognition of this urgency and of World Day Against Child Labour 2011, a meeting of implementing agencies was held in Washington DC on 2nd June entitled “Creating Safe Futures”. It was sponsored by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) and the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in order to emphasize the fact that hazardous child labour is of common concern to those in both the labour and health fields and that prevention, protection and rehabilitation of children engaged in hazardous work requires a joint effort.

This meeting was an opportunity for the agencies to share experience in addressing hazardous child labour, to consider new approaches, and to explore how to work together to expand global efforts to eliminate hazardous child labour. This compilation captures the ideas discussed in this meeting as well as additional “good practices” of others that are worthy of attention. The interventions in the meeting showed that while the problem remains significant, progress is being made in pulling children out of hazardous work – work which is likely to harm their health, safety, or morals. Concentrated efforts over the last ten years are bearing fruit. Statistics indicate that the numbers of the younger children who are trapped in hazardous work are coming down, as well as of girls. These two groups have been the priority for action over the last several years and these statistics demonstrate that such focused efforts can have good results.

However, almost half (62 million) of the 115 million children in hazardous work are between 15 to 17 years old, and their numbers are increasing. They occupy a unique category, considered children by International Conventions and national laws yet old enough to enter the labour market. As these older children represent part of the target group of important youth employment initiatives throughout the world, the option for them is primarily to ensure that they have safe and decent work, coupled with additional educational opportunities as appropriate.

The main purpose of this compilation is to demonstrate that elimination of hazardous child labour is not a pipe dream. By building on approaches that have shown success, and by using them to spark the creation of new innovative strategies, it is possible to protect millions of additional children and adolescents from hazardous work.

The compilation is also meant to encourage those not yet active in the fight against this pernicious form of child labour to get involved by showing the different types of action – from the simple to the complex – that agencies and individuals can undertake and that will make a difference in the lives of young people whose lives are at risk from a myriad of occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards.