Opening Remarks at ILO Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconiosis Workshop

By Francesco d'Ovidio, Director of ILO for Indonesia and Timor-Leste at ILO Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconiosis Workshop, 9 November 2015

Statement | Jakarta, Indonesia | 09 November 2015
Protection of workers against sickness, diseases and injuries arising out of their employment is one of the primary tasks assigned to the ILO in the Preamble of its Constitution. But despite the growing awareness that labour protection is critical to the national development, the workplace still remains a hazardous environment in many countries.

According the ILO estimates, there are 2.2 million work-related deaths annually, 350.000 fatal and 270 million non-fatal work accidents. Every year, 160 million workers develop occupational diseases; 30-40 per cent of them can be expected to lead to chronic illnesses and 10 per cent to permanent disability.

Technological progress has led to considerable changes in working life. Still, the 21st century worker has to struggle with numerous physical, chemical, biological, psycho-social and ergonomic hazards. This is why worker protection occupies a significant part of the ILO’s Decent Work agenda. The ILO has never accepted that injury and disease “go with the job”. In the course of the last several decades, preventive efforts in the industrialized countries have paid off by clear decrease in serious injuries and some occupational diseases. But the real advances in making workplace much healthier and safer are still modest. The macro-economic losses due to poor prevention are significant and may amount up to 4-5 per cent of the world GNP.

It has been always advocated by the ILO that the protection of workers’ health should not be considered as an isolated goal but as an integral part of the process of social and economic development. To reinvigorate this process, the ILO adopted the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention No. 187 in 2006.

We are very pleased that Indonesia has ratified this Convention this year and is now adapting its safety and health legislation to the requirements of this international treaty that will come in force in this country on 31 August next year. In line with the requirements of this Convention, a comprehensive national OSH program needs to be established in order to strengthen national OSH system. It is our understanding that the Indonesian government is working in this area.

Prevention of occupational respiratory diseases has a special focus in the ILO. These diseases continue to be among the leading occupational illnesses. Such ancient disease as silicosis and other pneumoconioses affect tens of millions of workers worldwide. Workers continue to be exposed every day to various types of air contaminants in industry and agriculture being at risk of contracting these occupational diseases, many of which are highly disabling and often incurable.

The joint ILO/WHO Global Programme for the Elimination of Silicosis (GPES) was established to strengthen prevention of pneumoconioses and eliminate silicosis as an occupational illness through the implementation of national action programmes. To-date, such programs have been established in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, China, India, Peru, South Africa, Turkey, Thailand and Vietnam, and preventive measures have intensified many others. The ILO Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses is indispensable tool for health surveillance of workers exposed to dusts that is widely used throughout the world.

This Workshop has an extensive educational program and practical exercises with the revised 2011 edition of the Classification. It will also offer you an excellent opportunity to learn from knowledge and experience gained in the prevention of pneumoconiosis other countries. You will also deliberate together with the ILO experts on strategies for improvement of diagnosis and prevention of pneumoconiosis in Indonesia and on perspectives for the establishment of a national action program for the elimination of silicosis (NPES) in this country.

In concluding my address, I would like underline that there can be no decent work without safe work and that occupational safety and health should not be viewed as social cost but as a long-term benefit for enterprises, societies and their people. I am confident that this Workshop will considerably contribute to the overall OSH activities in Indonesia and intensify actions towards better prevention of pneumoconiosis in this country and in the Asian region. I wish to express my appreciation to the MOH for its efficient collaboration with ILO in organizing this important training event.

I wish you every success in your work during these forthcoming days and in your efforts to prevent occupational respiratory diseases in Indonesia.