Tuesday, June 7, 2022

ILO Meets to Discuss Occupational Safety and Health for Workers Around the World

By Anezka Krobot, rising 2L at St. Louis University School of Law

This week and last week, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is holding the 110th International Labour Conference, where governments, employers’ organizations and trade unions from the 187 member States of the ILO meet to discuss, among other important questions, the issue of occupational safety and health as a Fundamental Principle and Right at Work. The issue of occupational safety and health for workers came to the forefront of the agency’s priorities with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in workers around the world being forced to work in conditions which put them in danger of contracting the potentially deadly virus. If it is decided that the effective protection of safe and healthy working conditions is a fundamental right, a 5th category of rights will be added to the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. 

So, what could this mean for the United States? The U.S. has been a member state of the ILO since 1934, Since then, the U.S. has become an integral member of the organization and ratified 14 conventions of the ILO, two of which fall under the “fundamental” category.  If the new category is added to the Declaration, the U.S. will be expected to “respect, promote, and realize in good faith” the right of all workers to be protected against illness, disease, and injury arising out of employment.  

For the ILO’s part, its stance appears clear. In an about the topic, its spokesman said, “The lack of safe and healthy working environments can no longer be tolerated. There is no right more important than the right to life.”

Much of this information was compiled from: https://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/occupational-health-and-safety-as-a-fundamental-principle-and-right/


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