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SAEMA – Specialist Access Engineering and Maintenance Association – has a long history in delivering the best training and guidance in the temporary and permanent suspended access industry. In keeping with our commitment to advancing safety through raising the standards in best practice, we keep in touch with all the latest developments – chiefly safety, worker welfare and the environment. The following story was published by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

As we head into a new year, we asked a number of people what they think 2023 has in stall for the OSH profession.

Ruth Wilkinson, Head of Policy, IOSH

Globally, the next 12 months is set to be one of continued recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic as well as one of change as we see the world of work continue to evolve as new ways of working and new technologies appear and we see the rise in the informal economy and digital platform working.

However, if we are to recover, build resilience and get to a position of thriving economies, it is crucial that people and their protections and rights are at the heart of everything governments, policy-makers and employers do, and that workers have access to safe and healthy working conditions and decent work. It is key that they are looked after, that their occupational health and safety is prioritised.

Everyone has a role to play, not just OSH professionals. And we have a long journey to go on.

Late last year, IOSH revealed the results of a survey of more than 2,000 workers which showcased how demotivated UK workers are at work and how many feel that their health, safety and wellbeing is being compromised.

The protection of human rights, worker and labour rights and social protections are integral to workers’ wellbeing and their ability to fulfil their potential. Therefore, business success also depends on these being in place. If businesses are to be truly sustainable, they have to take note of this and ensure that their people are prioritised alongside planet and profit.

The importance of this was further thrust into the limelight in the middle of last year when the International Labour Organization adopted a safe and healthy working environment as one of its fundamental principles and rights at work. We call on all governments to ratify the fundamental OSH conventions and prioritise health and safety frameworks, standards and action.

Manal Azzi, Team Lead on Occupational Safety and Health, International Labour Organization (ILO)

The International Labour Office is preparing a proposal and a road map for the review of the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health adopted in 2003 and the promotion of a safe and healthy working environment as a new fundamental principle and right at work, to be discussed in March 2023.

The office will then engage in consultations with constituents and specialized international and regional organizations to formulate a reviewed global OSH strategy that is responsive to the needs of governments, employers and workers in the different regions and member states.

The strategy will define the direction for the concerted efforts of the ILO and constituents to realize the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment and build a preventative safety and health culture, thus contributing to the reduction of work-related deaths, injuries and diseases.

The inclusion of a safe and healthy working environment in the framework of ILO’s fundamental principles and rights at work and the recognition of the Occupational Safety and Health Convention 1981 (No. 155) and the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention 2006 (No. 187) as fundamental conventions represent a unique opportunity to promote ratification and implementation of the fundamental OSH conventions, as well as other OSH conventions, considering the interdependent relationship between them.

By reviewing the 2003 global strategy, the ILO and its members will reaffirm their commitment to protecting the health and life of workers, thereby promoting decent work and social justice and contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3: Good health and well-being and SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, Secretary General, Commonwealth

In accordance with the Commonwealth Charter, we are committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights covenants and international instruments. We therefore welcome the International Labour Conference (ILO) June 2022 resolution to adopt a safe and healthy work environment as a fundamental principle and right at work.

Whilst we are aware that some of our member states have not yet ratified ILO Conventions Nos. 155 and 187 on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), we recognise that this resolution means that they now have an obligation to respect, to promote and to realise the principles included in these conventions, regardless. We encourage governments, employers, workers, occupational safety and health experts and other stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth who are involved in decision making processes to be well informed of the implications of this resolution while creating and implementing occupational safety and health policies and programmes.

This will not only help create safer and healthier working conditions but also help free up healthcare capacities by reducing ill health or injury resulting from work, which will also help ensure that fewer young children, especially girls, miss out on education due to the loss of a parent or them being unable to work.

By adhering to the new resolution, member states would also become more attractive to foreign ethical investors who are actively seeking projects and countries with good occupational safety and health policies and practices.

The Commonwealth is pleased to have the support of IOSH as one of its accredited organisations who can help our member states work towards achieving this.

Emma Godfrey, Editor, IOSH Magazine, and Sally Hales, Deputy Editor, IOSH Magazine

The world is changing rapidly – and the OSH profession is proving keen to keep pace. Chief among the objectives for 2023 among readers of IOSH magazine is tackling the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. All safety professionals are part of this challenge.

The workplace is rapidly evolving, too, as workers, consumers and investors become ever more concerned with ethical principles and sustainability. OSH professionals tell us they want to improve wellbeing in the workplace by focusing on mental health more than ever before. They also want to explore how their roles can evolve to help drive change. Key to this is expanding competencies, with leadership, ethical standards and influencing becoming a greater part of the OSH conversation.

Immediate crises are still looming large. From the war in Ukraine speeding the switch to renewable energy and driving energy prices painfully high to inflationary pressures bringing additional stress to workers and businesses alike, 2023 looks set to be another year in which OSH professionals have much with which to grapple.

And, of course, Covid has not gone away. As its long-term impacts on the health and wellbeing of workforces continue to reveal themselves, the profession is also evolving its crisis management, business continuity and emergency response responsibilities as looks to strengthen itself in the face of future biological threats – and any other crisis that may choose to unfurl itself on us.

IOSH magazine will be unpicking these tricky subjects – and more – throughout 2023.

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