World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2020Read more
History will most likely remember 2020 as the year in which the world faced a pandemic disease that affected life and business deeply worldwide.
While today is the International Labor Organization’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2020, it is clear that the pandemic is far from over and it will take time for the situation to go back to normal. Instead, the numbers will continue to grow and Covid-19’s ultimate impact remains uncertain.
The worldwide concern and worry created by Covid-19 provides a context in which to think about other facts, facts that, from a health and safety perspective, often fail to gain the attention they deserve under “normal” circumstances. I emphasize the idea of “normal” circumstances because, from a safety point of view, these circumstances should never be considered normal.
The International Labor Organization estimates that every year 2.3 million people die due to work-related circumstances and 160 million suffer work-related illnesses. This is equivalent to 6,301 lives lost and 438,000 illnesses every single day of the year. And, on top of that, statistics show that there is clear underreporting, which, if corrected, would lead to much higher numbers.
Is it reasonable to consider this as “normal”? What is the difference for a family between becoming a victim due to a pandemic disease or because of a work-related accident?
The lack of a global consciousness in relation to work-related accidents and diseases is clear, with the reason being that global consciousness develops when a problem is worldwide, clearly visible, and simultaneous. In the case of work-related accidents and diseases, the problem is global and simultaneous, but it is mostly invisible and many people already assume that they are “normal”.
The first step to really starting to raise awareness is to make the problem visible and to break through the mental barrier that leads us to accept those accidents as unavoidable. Having a world day to promote safety and health at work is not a target itself. The real target is to implant safety as a top priority in people’s minds so that they include this awareness into their activities and decisions every single day. Remember: the vast majority of accidents are behavior-related, so our behavior makes a difference.
It’s okay to look around you for health and safety solutions, but also never forget to look for health and safety solutions – at behaviors – within yourself as well.
Global SHE & Process Safety Manager
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