Eleven CIS countries adopt international occupational safety and health standards.

News | 28 June 2007
Moscow (ILO News) – “First and foremost, we need to challenge the assumption that unsafe work is the inevitable price to pay for economic progress. Second, we have to make it known that the conditions that make work hazardous are often the same ones that provide an obstacle to productivity”, said Elaine Fultz, ILO Subregional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She spoke at the International Conference on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Status in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and on the implementation of a new standard called GOST 12.0.230-2007 (Moscow, 27-28 June 2007).

The standard was adopted in March, 2007 by eleven (out of twelve) members of the CIS. GOST is fully in line with International Labour Organization (ILO) principles as embodied in the ILO Guidelines on OSH Management Systems (ILO-OSH 2001) and the ILO OSH Framework Convention No. 187.

“Today we are witnessing a truly historical moment when practically the whole region of the former USSR adopts the international standards in managing OSH systems”, said Wiking Husberg, Senior OSH Specialist of the ILO Moscow Office. He particularly noted that a systematic approach is a key principle of the new GOST and ILO-OSH 2001.

According to the CIS Inter-State Statistical Committee, in 2005 the number of fatal accidents at work in the CIS amounted to 5,000. Alexander Askolsky, department director of the CIS Executive Council, noted that “the fatal accident rate in the Commonwealth is much higher that in the developed European countries”. Moreover, this statistic is incomplete does not reflect the full picture as the “accident reporting system in the CIS covers only 40-60% of the economically active population”, he said.

Taking part in the Conference were representatives from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, as well as employers’ and workers’ organizations and officials of the CIS Executive Council.

Presentations by individual countries revealed common features and trends in occupational safety and health. From the Soviet times the economies of the region inherited an OSH management system which today is outdated and does not correspond to the new economic and social situation.

The new GOST will bring occupational safety and health into compliance with the international standards formulated by the ILO, with due account to each country’s specific conditions and needs.

The systematic approach to developing a national OSH system implies the following main steps: preparation of national OSH profiles, and the development of National OSH Programmes with the aim to create a safety culture at enterprises. The establishment of national OSH information and training centers is a means to strengthen this process. A lot has been already done: information centers are working in eight countries of the region, and five countries have prepared national OSH profiles.

In the final resolution the participants reconfirmed their countries’ commitment to implement the new GOST and to introduce the systematic approach to the occupational safety and health. The conference materials will be submitted for the consideration of the CIS Consultative Committee on Labour, Migration and Social Protection of Population, the body that coordinates OSH issues in the Commonwealth of Independent States.