World Day For Safety And Health At Work is an annual event organized by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a specialised wing of the United Nations (UN), that functions to resolve the challenges faced by workers, employers as well as governments, in occupational settings. The chief objective of this worldwide wellness campaign is to emphasize the extent of work-associated illnesses, disputes, injuries and fatal instances and take active steps to make the work environment safe, to prevent such unfortunate incidents in the future. This global awareness movement was launched by the ILO and UN in 1993 and is observed on April 28 every year, to recognize the different occupational hazards and work towards incorporating OSH i.e. Occupational Health And Safety practices, to reduce the number of workplace accidents and deaths around the world. These encompass physical falls, injuries, overwork and mental stress, as well as taxing conditions, harassment encountered by vulnerable groups of employees, such as migrant workers and women.
Presently, with the world still bracing the raging COVID-19 pandemic, quite a few professions have adopted a pattern of operating remotely, with work from home (WFH) being the new norm as social distancing is guaranteed in these cases. Yet, people working remotely have been facing their own share of complaints, primarily demanding professional projects and deadlines, besides an inability to strike a healthy work-life balance. This has invariably resulted in various mental health issues of anxiety, depression, causing undue stress, lack of sleep and straining personal relationships. To tackle this predominant work-linked health issue, the International Labour Organisation has coordinated with the governments in nations across the globe to set up active helplines with qualified mental health professionals and counsellors. The ILO branch of the UN has also published an official advisory with simple tips on how to set up a workstation at home, to optimize productivity as well as stay healthy. This ensures that even professionals working from home get all the help they need when encountering any ailments pertaining to physical and mental health amid the pandemic.
Work-Related Challenges During The Global COVID-19 Crisis:
However, with essential services being required to stay operational amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly the health care sector of hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres, these individuals have undeniably suffered numerous setbacks. What with nearly 14 per cent of COVID-19 positive cases worldwide being reported in medical and health industry workers and many complaining of severe anxiety, mental stress and depression, having to treat patients while staying in PPEs for long hours. Another negative impact, as witnessed by the downfall of the global economy, was with countless individuals facing unemployment and a subsequent decline in health due to no income, thereby indicating that the work from home model was not ideal for every single employed person. Additionally, remote working is not practical across all fields, with industries such as manufacturing, brick-and-mortar stores, food service and restaurants requiring to function with their employees in person.
Theme Of World Day For Safety And Health At Work 2021:
Hence, this year, the focus and theme of World Day For Safety And Health At Work 2021 is on keeping in mind these lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and inculcating appropriate crucial precautionary measures to avert the spread of infectious diseases, foremost among them being COVID-19, at the workplace. In this regard, the ILO and UN aim to convey a key strategy to all organizations around the world – “Anticipate, Prepare And Respond To Crises: Invest Now In Resilient OSH Systems”. This ensures that ample protective measures are taken to guarantee that workers are safe and healthy, with no risk of contracting COVID-19 infection and all the while continuing to be employed.
Effective Ways To Halt Transmission Of Coronavirus Infection At Work:
- Use of face masks and hand sanitisers while at the workplace by all employees.
- Monitoring all workers for body temperature using infrared thermometers and blood oxygen levels with pulse oximeters before beginning professional duties for the day.
- Arranging proper medical care for workers who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while in the office or factory.
- Regularly cleaning all surfaces using disinfectants to remove all signs of microbial contamination and ensure workplace hygiene.
- Installing air filters and ventilation outlets wherever possible to make sure that employees are not in enclosed environments for long wherein COVID-19 transmission is possible.
- Maintaining social and physical distancing between employees at all times, while at work and during breaks.
- Discontinuing work-related travel assignments and setting up virtual meetings to ensure timely progress of all tasks and projects.
- Assigning employees to work in shifts and on certain days of the week, to reduce a large number of people on-site at the same time.
- Ensuring all workers get enough breaks between tasks and are not stressed with working for long hours or overburdened with responsibilities.
- Enquiring if workers are facing any risks with the new arrangements and taking steps to eliminate them.
- Informing all employees of work-related changes, progress as well as the current COVID-19 situation around, to ensure the safety and health of every individual at work.