Reflections on World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2020

Reflections on World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2020

30th April 2020

The 28th of April is the day designated by the International Labour Organisation as World Day for Safety and Health at Work. This year, the ongoing coronavirus crisis has caused this to be a day for reflecting on what is going on around the world.

What Is This Day About?

April 28 has historically been a day for raising awareness around the world of the need for health and safety among workers. It began in 2003, as a way to reduce the number of accidents and diseases suffered by people at work.

The United Nations website also points out that this is the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, a date that has been used for this purpose by trade unions since 1996.

Why Is This Year Different?

In 2020, the Covid-19 crisis has put the issue of safety at work into sharper focus than ever before. Many workers are unsure of where they currently stand, while employers may be keen to get back to business without fully assessing the health and safety issues.

This year is especially poignant in certain industries – principally healthcare – where many have lost colleagues in the current pandemic.

It is also noteworthy that the health and safety day this year is celebrated while a huge number of workers are at home, waiting for the green light to get back to business.

At the time of writing, there is still a lack of clarity over some of the main issues around getting back to work, particularly in industries such as construction. Workers are keen to understand how they have to adapt to the new measures such as social distancing and greater hand-washing while still complying with traditional safety regulations.

All in all, this is perhaps a unique opportunity to shine a light on this crucial issue. More people than ever before are interested in health and safety, meaning that the annual focus on this issue is likely to be more widely acknowledged than on other occasions.

The Question of PPE in Construction

Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been in the news a lot recently, mainly due to a chronic shortage of it. While a lot of the attention has rightly focussed on the healthcare sector, it is worth remembering that workers on construction sites also have a need for this sort of material.

The safety glasses, gloves and other types of PPE that have always been used on well-regulated sites have now been joined by face masks as essential items. They are as essential to safe work conditions as reliable tools and a sturdy step unit.

This means that workers now need to ensure that they meet both existing and emerging requirements. It is an interesting issue that needs to be fully explored before people can feel completely comfortable and protected again at work.

A Look Ahead

It is possible that increased health and safety measures is one of the few positives to come out of the Covid-19 crisis. If this is the case, then the World Day for Safety and Health at Work is likely to play an important part in raising awareness of what needs to be done to keep our workers protected.