World Day for Safety and Health at work 28th April 2014; A Summary Report
Today the International Labour Organisation (ILO) celebrates the World Day for Safety and Health at Work a date set to raise awareness and review current situations regarding the safety and health of individuals at work. This year the ILO have created a report which reviews the current situation regarding the use of chemicals and their impact on workplaces, on the environment and discusses various regional national and international efforts to address them.
Roberts Jackson has reviewed this document and highlights the important principals in the report.
Chemicals are used in many workplaces and are readily associated with industrial facilities such as petrochemical refineries, construction sites and automobile manufacturing, chemicals such as paints, thinners, lacquers, adhesives etc. However virtually every workplace is has an element of chemical use potentially exposing a broader range of workers to chemicals than initially anticipated. Roberts Jackson can identify with this fact as the firm has many Asthma and Dermatitis cases in which our clients have worked in a hair or beauty salon and their daily contact with hazardous substances found in dyes and other products causing reactions such as skin irritation and rashes. Many of these can become quite hazardous as the products are often used with no protective measure such as correct ventilation or protective equipment.
Although Roberts Jackson and the ILO have a vested interest in the effect to which exposure to chemicals cause conditions in the workplace, there are further effects of the wide use of chemicals. The ILO has also highlighted the effects on the environment in the 2014 report.
Nanomaterial’s and other substances that have recently been created through innovative research and development of chemicals are raising concerns of the ILO as this research is developing faster than the health and safety structure needed to ensure the safe use of the same materials. The ILO highlight that the very nature of Nanomaterial’s (their size) may change the affect they have on humans.
The impact chemicals have on the working world is considered in some detail in the report, exposure to certain chemical cause diseases which impact on the individual’s ability to work, support the individual financially and their dependants not to mention their daily quality of life. This inability for the individual to work also affects the enterprises who employ them through lost productivity, absenteeism and workers’ compensation programmes. This loss is extensive although not specifically known; the World Health Organisation reported findings from their 2004 report which showed 4.9 million deaths globally would be attributed to environmental exposure and management of selected chemicals (figures include both occupational and non- occupational exposures). Globally, 375,000 deaths were caused by occupational exposure to chemicals.
The ILO estimates the following shocking figures in its most recent report:
- Each year there are an estimated 160 million cases of non-fatal- work-related disease
- 2.34 million People die each year from work-related accidents and diseases and 2.02 million of these correspond to occupational and work-related disease.
To achieve a sound management of chemicals in the workplace requires three steps. Firstly, identify the chemicals that are present; classify them as to their health, physical and environmental hazards; prepare labels and safety data sheets to convey the hazards and protective measures. Secondly, evaluate the use in the workplace and what exposures can result from this. Thirdly, use the information gathered to design a preventive and protective programme for the workplace.
ILO state that chemicals are key to modern life, and will continue to be produced, and used in the workplace for the foreseeable future. Only with a concerted effort from all parties involved will the use of chemicals become a safe practice. The task at hand is to maintain the benefits achieved through the production and use of chemicals, minimise the workers exposure and emissions to these chemicals into the environment and develop and implement national preventative and control strategies and systems that comprehensively and simultaneously address health and safety during the use of chemicals.
To read the full report and review other helpful information regarding this issues please clink on the below link and download the report :-http://www.ilo.org/safework/events/meetings/WCMS_235058/lang–en/index.htm