More than 2.3 million people die annually from workplace accidents and illnesses, and millions experience a significant reduction in their quality of life, according to the International Labour Organization.
The world Labour organisation noted that majority of the accidents (one in six of all fatal accidents) occur in the construction sector. It said that almost 60,000 people in construction sector lose their lives in one year.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) said that workplace safety is not fully appreciated or barely exists in some of the locations. This is mainly because the health and safety regulations in place are too weak in some countries. In other countries, the health and safety regulations that are in place are often ignored.
The UNOPS also said that lack of information or understanding of health and safety best practices also led to inadequate performance in this area. It also pointed out that contractor’s saw health and safety as an additional burden that increased the time to complete the projects as well as the costs. They never see the incentive for raising their standards.
The UNOPS mentioned that health and safety on construction sites do not take centre stage or move to the top of the priority list in countries faced by conflict, internal displacement or poverty.
The UNOPS noted that health and safety should be taken seriously regardless of the country a person is working. Moreover, all workers have the right to work in a safe environment that allows them to go back to their families – alive, unhurt and healthy.
UNOPS works along with contractors businesses to train them on the job and help to build up a health and safety culture. Even before contractors are chosen to work on UNOPS-implemented projects, they’re made aware of UNOPS health and safety policies and requirements, which they are also required to follow.
The policies and requirements include developing risk assessments, conducting weekly worksite inspections and arranging site inductions. The site inductions cover a variety of topics, ranging from providing information on the site logistics plan, hazards and evacuation procedures to explaining emergency and first aid procedures, as well as the duties and responsibilities of everyone on the worksite.
And if an incident or near miss does occur, contractors must report these to UNOPS. It must be thoroughly investigated and steps must be put in place to prevent it from occurring again. This helps ensure that lessons learned are used to make worksites even safer.
Not only does this save lives but it also makes local contractors more competitive for future jobs while helping to ensure workers return back to their families – free from injuries and illnesses.
All of this may seem like a drop in the ocean. But each person that we work with on improving health and safety standards takes that knowledge with them to the next construction site. And the next one. And the next one – bringing and spreading that culture of health and safety with them.