Safety Leaders Meet in Seoul, Sign Declaration Promoting Safer Workplaces

Meeting prior to the XVIII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work underway now at the COEX Convention Center in Seoul, Korea, 46 high-level safety and health professionals from around the world on June 29 signed a new Declaration on Safety and Health at Work, saying the document "marks a major step in the establishment of a preventative safety and health culture" globally. The triennial Congress is jointly organized by the International Labour Organization and the International Social Security Association and is hosted this year by the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency.

Recognizing that improving safety and health at work has a positive impact on working conditions, productivity, and economic and social development, the declaration emphasizes that the right to a safe and healthy working environment should be recognized as a fundamental human right. It also states that promotion of occupational safety and health and the prevention of accidents and diseases at work is a core element of ILO's founding mission and of the Decent Work Agenda. "Work that respects human dignity is the essence of decent work, the mission of the ILO," said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "Decent work must be safe work."

The declaration encourages governments to consider the ratification of the ILO Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187) as a priority, as well as other relevant ILO conventions on safety and health at work and ensure the implementation of their provisions--including by a strong and effective labor inspection system--as a means of improving national performance on safety and health at work in a systematic way. Noting that high safety and health standards at work go hand in hand with good business performance, the declaration calls on employers to ensure that prevention is an integral part of their activities, to establish effective occupational safety and health management systems to improve workplace safety and health, and to guarantee that workers are consulted, trained, informed, and involved in this process. The document also states that workers should follow safety and health instructions and procedures, including those on the use of personal protective equipment, participate in safety and health training and awareness-raising activities, and cooperate with their employer in adhering to measures related to their safety and health at work.

Through the declaration, the signatories committed to taking the lead in promoting a preventative safety and health culture, placing occupational safety and health high on national agendas, and agreed to review progress at the XIX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in 2011. Among the 46 signatories representing the United States were Leo Carey, vice president of the National Safety Council; Mark Vergnano, group vice president of DuPont; and Keith Williams, president and CEO of Underwriters Laboratories. To access/read the declaration, go to www.ilo.org.

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