The International Labour Organization (ILO), through its traditional strengths of tripartism and social dialogue, began to observe the World Day for Safety and Health at Work in 2003, in order to emphasise the prevention of accidents and diseases at work.

This commemoration forms an integral part of the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health of the ILO. One of the central pillars of the Global Strategy is advocacy and commemorating this important World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a significant way to raise awareness of how to make work safe and healthy and of the need to raise the political profile of occupational safety and health.

Historically, 28 April is also the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers organized worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996.

Prevention of occupational diseases and accidents

Each of us is responsible for preventing deaths and injuries on the job. As governments we are responsible for providing the infrastructure — laws and services — necessary to ensure that workers remain employable and that enterprises flourish; this includes the development of a national policy and programme and a system of inspection to enforce compliance with occupational safety and health legislation and policy. As employers we are responsible for ensuring that the working environment is safe and healthy. As workers we are responsible to work safely and to protect ourselves and not to endanger others, to know our rights and to participate in the implementation of preventive measures.

The future of Work

The theme for 2019 is the future of work. According to the ILO “changes in work arrangements, technology (digitalisation and ICT, platform work, automation and robotics), demographics, globalisation, climate change, and other drivers are affecting the dynamics of safety and health and the nature of professions in this area. This is notwithstanding the persistent traditional and re-emerging risks and variations across developing and developed countries.”

These new and emerging occupational risks may be caused by technical innovation or by social or organizational change, such as:

  • New technologies and production processes, e.g. nanotechnology, biotechnology
  • New working conditions, e.g. higher workloads, work intensification from downsizing, poor conditions associated with migration for work, jobs in the informal economy
  • Emerging forms of employment, e.g. self-employment, outsourcing, temporary contracts

On this day let us seize opportunities for action to build partnerships and work collectively to ensure the health and safety of all workers.