As pressure mounts on countries to ease lockdown restrictions, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently 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 should carry out risk assessments and ensure workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria, it said.
Without such controls, countries face the very real risk of a resurgence of the virus and putting in place the necessary measures will minimise the risk of a second wave of contagion contracted at the workplace, it said.
“The safety and health of our entire workforce are 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,” ILO director-general Guy Ryder said in a press release.
“It is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families and the larger communities, ensure work continuity and economic survival,” he added.
In particular, risk control measures should be specifically adapted to the needs of workers at the frontline of the pandemic. These include health workers, nurses, doctors and emergency workers, as well as those in food retail and cleaning services, ILO said.
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.