Protect workers now and after lockdowns ease: ILO

Kathmandu, April 28

As the pressure mounts on countries to ease their lockdown restrictions, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has urged governments to take action to prevent and control COVID-19 in the workplace, with active involvement and dialogue with employers’ and workers’ organisations.

All employers need to carry out risk assessments and ensure their workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria beforehand, to minimise the risk to workers, says the ILO.

Without such controls, countries face the risk of a resurgence of the virus. Putting in place necessary measures will minimise the risk of second wave of contagion contracted at workplace.

“The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount today.

In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are, and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves,” Director-General of the ILO Guy Ryder has been quoted as saying in a media release. In particular, risk control measures should be specifically adapted to the needs of workers at the frontline of the pandemic.

The ILO also highlighted the needs of the most vulnerable workers and businesses, in particular those in the informal economy, migrant and domestic workers. Measures to protect these workers should include education and training on safe and healthy work practices, free provision of personal protective equipment as needed, access to public health services and livelihood alternatives.

To ensure a safe return to work and to avoid further work disruptions, the ILO recommends mapping hazards and assessing risks of contagion in all work operations, and continuing to assess them following a return to work. It has urged adopting risk control measures adapted to each sector and the specifics of each workplace and workforce.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 29, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.