Tuesday, May 08, 2018

An injury to one is an injury to all

Health and safety at work can get ridiculed in more affluent countries as something nannyish and interfering - but for much of the developing world it is a matter of life and death.
Unsafe workplaces have the kind of casualty rates more likely to be associated with going to war rather than earning a living.
Every year there are 2.8 million deaths because of accidents at work or from work-related diseases.
And every single day more than a million people have a serious accident or injury at work - whether in falls on badly regulated building sites or from using dangerous machinery in factories.
Guy Ryder, director general of the ILO, says: "152 million children, who should be in school, are working. And almost half of those children are engaged in hazardous work. For youth who are old enough to enter the labour force, the available data shows that they experience a 40% greater incidence of injury on the job than their older counterparts."
 Every day there are 37 million teenagers going to work in hazardous conditions that are more accidents waiting to happen.
The international research from the ILO has identified a number of factors likely to push up the rate of accidents among young workers. Young workers are more likely to be new to a job. And the research indicates that during the first month of employment workers are four times more likely to have an accident. Youngsters make up a disproportionately high number of migrant workers, who might find themselves pushed into the most difficult and dangerous jobs, in a setting where they don't speak the local language. These young workers are more likely to be lacking in education, skills and training and might not be able to recognise warnings and instructions. Whether it's operating machinery, climbing ladders or using chemicals, inexperienced youngsters are likely to be more vulnerable to accidents. There are also suggestions young people might be more easily persuaded by peer pressure to go along with dangerous working practices, where older workers might be more cautious. The youngest workers are also more physically susceptible to toxins and hazardous materials, says the study.
Too often young people do not feel they can refuse to do something even if they think it might be dangerous,  Valentine Offenloch, a programme officer for the ILO says.
"Young people feel they have to accept any job." They might not have the experience or confidence to realise when the risks are too high. The consequences for young people who are badly hurt can be devastating. It's a question of "survival", she says. "It's as fundamental as that." If young people are breadwinners and are injured, they may no longer be able to work and support their family. "It's a very sobering experience," she says, to see so many people who have been maimed and harmed by such work injuries.

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