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Worldwide approximately 6,000 workers lose their lives each and every day of the yeas due to work-related accidents, injuries, or diseases. An estimation of 2.2 million people throughout the world die every year because of work-related accidents and diseases and 270 million other people suffer from serious injuries and 160 million people suffer short or long term illness due to work each year. As this is a very high number and a critical issue in worldwide ILO has been at the heart of ILO’s agenda, to protect against sickness, disease and injury taking place due to employment. As such this topic can be seen as an important issue in the IR systems of the world.

The objective of this assignment is to see and come to a conclusion whether ILO can make a difference in the issue of Safety and Health at Work in the world today by looking closely at ILO, their work, views and recommendations on this issue through the knowledge and information that we got from this subject Industrial Relations. This discussion paper will also help us to improve our ability to communicate and generate ideas and give more comprehensive knowledge about Industrial Relations and its concepts and to identify what ILO needs to do in order to improve and make world more aware on Safety and Health at Work as this is a very important issue in the world today for its workers and employers. Betterment of Safety and Health at Work will establish much better relationships with their employees, have more satisfied and healthy workers, as such working place and people will be more happy and problem free which will help companies to achieve their goals easily and gain profits. Hence, the IR system throughout the world will be more efficient and effective making the working environment and world a much better and safer place. (Safety and Health at Work, n.d.)

2.0 What are IR and IIR?

Traditionally Industrial Relations (IR) focuses on formal and informal institutions of job regulation which includes collective bargaining, unions, employer associations and labour tribunals. A country’s industrial relations are formed by a series of influences like that country’s history, culture, law, technology, economic policies and response to globalization. Industrial relations are defined by Dunlop (1958) as the study of employment rules and their variations over time. As per Dunlop, government agencies and management unions established a network of rules to govern the workplace and the work community. It is the study about who generates the rules prevailing worker-management relations in the workplace, the temperament of those rules, and how they are managed and standardized. (Kelly, 1999)

International Industrial Relations deals with the bodies and phenomena that have cross national limitations as their industrial relations features of multi-national companies or the international labour movement.

2.1 Key Elements of Industrial Relations

(Refer Appendix 1)

2.2 Systems View of IR

2.3 Approaches to Industrial Relations

2.4 Success of an IR System

Success of an IR system depends on a company successfully attending to certain issues by enabling and ensuring harmony within the economy and in turn gaining social development. (Refer Appendix 2)

3.0 International Labour Organization (ILO) – Overview

ILO was founded on 11th April 1919 at the “peace conference by the Treaty of Versialls” that ended the World War I. It was created mainly in response to humanitarian concern over the conditions of workders, political and economic considerations. Since its early days the ILO has made signal contributions to the world of work as in the first International Labour Conference held in Washington in October 1919 ILO adopted six International Labour Conventions dealing with working hours in industry, maternity protection, night work for women, unemployment, minimum age and night work for young people in the industry.

The International Labour Office is the permanent secretariat and operational headquarters of ILO. There are more than 40 branch offices under the leadership of a Director-General with administration and management being decentralized in each regional area. Director-General is elected every five years by the governing body and is subjected to the instructions of the governing body and responsible for efficient conduct of the International Labour Office and other which may be assigned. ILO Administration Tribunal examines employment-related complaints by officials of International Labour Office who has recognized jurisdiction and currently serving 46,000 international civil servants who are serving of former officials of around 60 organisations. Universally ILO is regarded as an authoritative source of knowledge on the world of work and they have established institutes and centres that provide specialized research, training and support for the ILO’s offices and constituents. (About the ILO, n.d.)

3.1 Structure of ILO – Tripartite Constituency

ILO is the only tripartite U.N. agency with government, employer, and worker representatives which makes them unique forum where governments and social partners of its 185 member states economy freely and openly debate and elaborate on labour standards and policies.

3.2 How ILO Works – Tripartism and Social Dialogue

Most important concept ILO is the cooperation between governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations in developing social and economic progress. By bringing together governments, employers and workers ILO aims to serve the needs of working women and men and setting labour standards, developing policies and devise programmes. This very structure shows ILO’s social dialogue in action as workers and employers together have an equal voice with governments in its deliberations and these views are reflected in ILO labour standards, policies and programmes.

Tripartism is encouraged within ILO’s constituents and member states through promotion of social dialogue between trade unions and employers by formulation and implementation of national policy on social, economic and many other issues. ILO’s main work is accomplished through three main bodies (The International labour Conference, the Governing body and the Office) which is comprise of governments’, employers’ and workers’ representatives where the work of Governing Body and the Office is assisted by tripartite committees covering major industries. They are also supported by committees of experts on matters such as management development, industrial relations, vocational training, workers’ education, occupational safety and health, and special problems of women and young workers. To examine matters of special interest to concerned regions, regional meetings of the ILO member states are periodically held. (How the ILO works, n.d.)

3.3 Mission and Objective of ILO

“The primary goal of the ILO today is to promote opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work, in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.” (Juan Somavia, ILO Director-General)

3.4 The ILO Constitution

The Preamble to the Constitutions says “Whereas Universal and Lasting Peace can be established only if it is based upon Social Justice…” (Please see ILO website for full text)

3.5 Scope of the ILO

3.6 Works of the ILO

ILO seeks to ensure that labour standards are respected in practice as well as in principle while working with its member States as they are the global body responsible for drawing up and overseeing application of international standards.

3.7 Key Issues Tackled by the ILO

Some of the key issues tackled by the ILO are:

Global job crisis

Social protection floor initiative

Realizing the Millennium Development Goals

Social Justice and a Fair Globalization

3.8 How ILO Intervenes

3.8.1 International Labour Standards and its Effects

3.8.2 Recent Status of International Labour Standards

As at November 2012 the International Labour Standards can be said to have:

189 Conventions (C 189, Domestic Workers Convention, 2010)

202 Recommendations (R 202, Social Protection Floors Recommendation 2012)

185 Member States (Maldives, South Sudan, Republic of Palau)

International Labour Standards are classified as;

Basic Human Rights, Employment, Social policy, Labour Administration, Industrial Relations, Conditions of work, Social Security, Employment of Women, Employment of Children and Young Persons, Protection for Special Categories

3.8.3 Means of Action used by ILO

3.9 Areas Handled by ILO under Conventions and Recommendations

3.9.1 Conventions and Recommendations

Conventions and Recommendations are two instruments used by the ILO to set international labour standards to set out basic principles and rights at work. Conventions are legally binding international treaties that might be ratified by member states and recommendations serve as non-binding guidelines. As convention lays down the basic principles to be implemented by ratifying countries while related recommendations complements the convention by giving more thorough guidelines on how it could be applied. Recommendations can also be self-ruling and not linked to any convention. There are 8 fundamental conventions and four priority governance conventions. (Refer Appendix 3)

Total Number of Conventions: 189

Convention Fundamental: 8

Convention Governance (Priority): 4

Up to date Conventions: 82

Shelved Conventions: 25

Withdrawn Conventions: 5

Conventions in force: 153

Number of Protocols: 5

Number of Recommendations: 202

Withdrawn Recommendations: 36

3.9.2 Why these Areas are Important

Some important Conventions and Recommendations are:

No. 29 – Forced Labour Convention (1930)

No. 87 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize Convention (1948)

No. 98 – Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (1949)

No. 100 – Equal Remuneration Convention (1951)

No. 105 – Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (1957)

No. 111 – Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (1958)

No. 138 – Minimum Age Convention (1973) and Recommendation NO. 190

No. 182 – Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999) and Recommendation No. 146 (ILO Conventions and Recommendations, n.d.)

Details are given in the Appendix (Refer Appendix 4)



3.10 Supervision and Monitoring of Application of Standards

ILO has a large standard-setting and supervision agenda and is essentially based on two types of procedures – a regular procedure and ad hoc procedure which is activated on adversarial basis and is described in its Constitution. Present structure is the outcome of a series of adjustments made by the Conference and the Governing Body throughout the years in order to adapt the procedure to the growing numbers of conventions and states that are parties to them. As ILO is a tripartite organization its constituents and decision makers are not only the governments but also workers and employers and they all play an active role in the supervision of ratified conventions. (Romano, 1996)

Below are some of supervisory documents, reports and bodies

Annual Reports

Under Article 22 ( ILO Constitution)- – Ratified Conventions

Under Article 19 ( ILO Constitution)- – Non-ratified Conventions

Committee of Experts on Application of Conventions and Recommendation (CEACR)

Conference Committee on Application of Standards

Global Report

Reports under Declaration of Social Justice for Fair Globalization of 2008

3.11 ILO’s Complaint Procedure

ILO’s complaint procedure is regulated by Articles 26 to 34 of the ILO Constitution by which a complaint can be judged against a member state not observing a convention to which it is a party and can be filed by:

Another member state also having ratified the same convention

Any delegate to the ILO Conference (each member state is also represented by a delegate representing the employers and a delegate representing the workers)

The ILO Governing Body (composed of 28 state representatives, 14 representatives from employers and 14 representative of workers)

This shows that a compliant cannot be filed by an individual and is mostly done by trade unions of the country which are represented in the ILO (Complaints, n.d.)

Below are committees for complaints:

Committee on Freedom of Association

Commission of Inquiry

3.11.1 Declaration of Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up

These declarations makes sure that these rights are universal and that they apply to all people in all states, regardless of their economic development and the commitment is supported by a follow-up procedure. The Declaration and its Follow-up provides three ways to help countries, employers and workers to achieve the full potential of the Declaration’s objective. They are:

Annual Review composed of reports from countries that have not yet ratified

Global Report

Technical cooperation projects (About the Declaration, n.d.)

3.11.2 Core Labour Standards

4.0 Safety and Health at Work

“Every 15 seconds, a worker dies from a work-related accident or disease.

Every 15 seconds, 160 workers have a work-related accident.”

There are more than 2.3 million deaths per year – everyday, 6,300 people die as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases. From these 317 million accidents occur on the job annually which results in extended absences of workers from work. Hence, the human cost of this danger is huge and the economic burden caused due to poor occupational safety and health practices is anticipated at 4 percent of global Gross Domestic Product each year.

4.1 What is Safety and Health at Work?

Safety and Health conditions at work differ from country to country, economic sectors and even social groups. Their concept of work culture is a reflection of the essential value systems adopted by that party and such cultures can be seen in practice in the managerial systems, personnel policy, principles for participation, training policies and quality management of the task. Safety and Health at work or Occupational safety and health (OSH) aim is the promotion and upholding of maximum level of physical, mental and social well-being of workers in all occupations; in summary the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job. Main goal is to promote a safe and healthy work environment for every worker. The main focus is on three different objectives;

The maintenance and promotion of workers’ health and working capacity

The improvement of working environment and work to become conducive to safety and health, and

Development of work organizations and working cultures in a direction which supports health and safety at work while doing so promoting a positive social climate and smooth operation and enhancing productivity of the work.

4.2 Reasons for selecting this Topic

Main reason why I chose this topic is because today this is one of the main concerns in the world and the work environment. As industrial relations is a very important concept in each and every country today as creating and establishing a safe work environment is vital to the success of any business and is one of the best ways to retain staff and get their maximum productivity. As such this is very important and essential even though it might cost a bit to implement such safe practices and install safe equipment but not taking any action might lead to severe problems. As I used to work before and after finishing my studies I plan to go and start work I feel that safety in any workplace is essential and that businesses need to ensure this in order to keep their staff happy and make them work to their full potential. I also feel that knowing and understanding the OHS laws and new work health and safety laws will help me to avoid unnecessary costs and damage to myself and to my fellow workers and provide me satisfaction and an organization the foundation they need to achieve long-term success. When I go back to work I want to go to a place where there is best safety and health at work which will make my life safer in the work environment.

This also a very crucial issue that people need to give their time and effort to make it better, specially international organization like ILO, to take notice and do something and make a difference in the world so that more people are aware of this problems, solutions and actions that will taken if there is bad safety and health at work as deaths and injuries take a primarily a heavy toll in developing countries, where most of the population is occupied in dangerous activities, such as agriculture, fishing and mining. Also the most affected are the poorest and least protected, often women, children and migrants throughout the world.

4.3 ILO’s Approach on Safety and Health at Work

ILO has a Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment, SafeWork, which aims to create worldwide awareness of the scope and consequences of work-related accidents, injuries and diseases. SafeWork’s aim is to place the health and safety of all workers on the international agenda; and to encourage and support practical action at all levels. As ILO says “Decent work is safe work.” (Safety and health at work, n.d.)

The ILO published ILO-OSH in 2001 titled as Guidelines an on occupational safety and health management systems to help organizations with introducing OSH management systems. These guidelines encourage constant progression in employee health and safety, accomplished through a constant process of policy, organization, planning & implementation, evaluation and action for improvement, all supported by constant auditing to resolve the success of OSH actions.

In order to assist employers to keep up with the speedily changing and competitive industrial environments the ILO management system was created. ILO recognized that national legislation is vital but inadequate on its own to tackle the challenges faced by industry as such they selected to guarantee free and open distribution of administrative tools in the forum of occupational health and safety management system supervision for everyone to provide everyone with tools for industry to create safer and healthy working environment and set up a positive safety cultures within the organizations.

4.4 Safety and Health at Work Standards

The ILO Constitution put forth the principle that workers should be protected from sickness, disease and injury taking place from their employment. ILO standards on occupational safety and health supplied fundamental tools for governments, employers, and workers to set up such practices and to provide for maximum safety at work. ILO have also adopted more than 40 standards in particular dealing with occupational safety and health, as well as over 40 Codes of Practice and almost half of ILO instruments deal directly with occupational safety and health issues. (Refer Appendix 4)

4.5 Good Practices of Safety and Health at Work in Different Countries

The Healthy Workplaces Campaigns (formerly known as “European Weeks for Safety and Health at Work”) running since 2000 are one of EU-OSHA’s principal tools for raising awareness of issues related to occupational safety and health, and promoting the idea that good health and safety is good for business. Also these campaigns are now largest of their kind in the world. (Healthy Workplaces Campaigns, n.d.)

Some other good practices are:

Assistance in planning and organization of all features of work, at all stages, to make sure working conditions which will not in the short or longer term damage the health and safety of the employees;

Collaboration with the Internal Safety service, Safety Committee and involvement of workers, to make sure that all aspects of health and safety at work are incorporated in the workplace review and the solution of problems;

Primary elements of the assessment – principles of prevention are implemented in advising how the work is to be planned and performed. All company documentation needed for the risk assessment is collected; workplace and individual employee files are kept. Workplace assessment is performed in an efficient and practical way also in regard to the environment. Appropriate directions to the workers and their education are included; and

Necessary training and expert assistance when needed are ensured.

4.6 Safety and Health at Work Situation in the Real World and its Reasons

4.6.1 Situation in General throughout the World

Work plays an essential role in people’s lives as most workers spend at least eight hours a day in the workplace, whether it is an office, factory, on a plantation, etc. Hence, it is vital that work environment to be safe and healthy but this is not the case for many workers around the world. Each and every day workers around the world are faced with different health hazards, like dusts, gases, noise, vibration, extreme temperature and many more. It is very unfortunate that some employers take little responsibility for the protection of the workers and their health and safety. Actually some employers have no idea that they have the ethical and legal responsibility to protect their workers and due to this lack of knowledge and attention given to health and safety and hazards, work-related accidents and diseases are common throughout the world. (Your health and safety at work, n.d.)

Map 1: Maplecroft – Global Map of Health and Safety Risk 2011


4.6.2 Safety and Health at Work in Relation to Sri Lanka

Activities relating to occupational safety and health (OSH) in Sri Lanka are operated through priority outcome 2, Enhanced labour administration and promotion of equitable employment practices of the Decent Work Country Programme for Sri Lank 2008-2012. As occupational Safety and Health deals with the safeguard of the most valuable and indispensable human asset of any country, its’ workforce which includes not only the wage employment but all the working population who engages in some kind of self economic activity contributing to national development.

According to ILO’s estimates, in Sri Lanka about 4,000 accidents are being reported annually and around 600,000 working days each year are lost due to accidents. Since year 1896 till 1950 in Sri Lanka considerations on Occupational Safety and Health was confined to Mines and to the relevant machinery and only extended to Factories under Factory Ordinance to date. These shortcomings in relation to Occupational Safety and Health coverage in the formal sector is a key concern because only 30 percent of the labour force is covered by the statutory provision on OSH. As the government realized the need for wider coverage the state took responsibility to ensure safe and non-exploitative work environment for all Sri Lankans and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Manpower embarked on formulating new legislation with technical assistance from ILO. As a result the new Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act has been approved by Cabinet now and is expected to be presented to Parliament for their approval. (Safety and Health at work, Sri Lanka, 2012)

4.7 What is ILO doing about Safety and Health at Work at Present?

Since its’ very beginning 90 years ago the protection of workers’ lives and health has been a key objective of the ILO. As today’s rapidly changing world with its technological change and fast-paced and globalised economy causes new challenges and pressure on all areas of the world of work, especially for occupational safety and health which ILO has made as an integral element in their Decent Work Agenda.

The Programme on Safety and Health at Work and the Environment (SafeWork) is ILO’s lead unit on OSH which plays an important role in sharing best practices in the field and raising awareness of OSH issues. The four major goals of SafeWork are:

“Develop preventative policies and programmes to protect workers in hazardous occupations and sectors;

Extend the effective protection to vulnerable groups of workers falling outside the scope of traditional protective measures;

Better equip governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations to address problems of workers’ well-being, occupational health care and the quality of working life; and

Document the social and economic impact of improving workers’ protection so that it can be recognized by policy and decision makers.” (World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2009, 2009)

The celebration of Word Day for Safety and Health is an essential part of Global Strategy on ILO’s Occupational Safety and Health as they promotes the establishment of a global preventative safety and health culture by involving all stakeholders focusing international attention on emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health and on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide. It is also the day that world’s trade union movement holds its International Commemoration Day to honour the dead and injured workers who were the victims of occupational accidents and diseases they organize worldwide mobilization and campaigns on this date.

The world day for Safety and Health at Work held on 28 April every year has become one of the most important international events for promoting OSH. Each year there is a theme which is built on promoting a preventative safety and health culture in the workplace with different sub-themes. Theme of 2012 centers on the promotion of occupational safety and health (OSH) in a green economy as there is a change in the world to a greener and more sustainable economy. In this as the green economy grows it is imperative that safety and health at work are incorporated into green jobs policies. This means that integrating risk evaluation and management measures in the life cycle study of all green jobs. (World Day for Safety and Health at Work in 2012: Promoting safety and health in a green economy, n.d.)

ILO has also been actively supporting initiatives in some countries for developing national policies and programmes where else in other countries closely working with their governments to establish national tripartite advisory bodies for OSH.

4.8 Monitoring and Control Processes Adopted by ILO

The ILO has developed an amount of comprehensive instruments to promote its work in the field of OSH and most of these international instruments are concerned with specific hazards or specific sectors. The ILO Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187) and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 197) describes requirements for countries to promote OSH through national OSH systems and programmes, building a preventive safety and health culture and applying a systems approach to the management of OSH and to make this happen employers, workers and governments all play key roles.

Below table shows ILO’s Strategic Approach on Occupational Safety and Health