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60m garment sector workers to benefit from ILO’s code of practice on safety, health

By Gloria Nwafor 
26 October 2021   |   4:04 am
More than 60 million workers around the globe will benefit from concrete guidance as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopts a code of practice on improving safety...

More than 60 million workers around the globe will benefit from concrete guidance as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) adopts a code of practice on improving safety and health in textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries.
  
Based on international labour standards and other sectoral guidelines, the code provides comprehensive and practical advice on how to eliminate, reduce and control all major hazards and risks. 
 
The code addresses chemical substances, ergonomic and physical hazards, tools, machines and equipment, as well as building and fire safety.
 
Chairman of the experts’ meeting that adopted the code, Jukka Takala, said: “The adoption of this ILO code of practice is a milestone in the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries. Having spent the past 50 years regulating, enforcing and, in particular, promoting occupational safety and health, I can personally attest to the fact that the adoption of this ILO code of practice is a milestone in the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries.”  
 


He said the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear industries had been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis as thousands of enterprises had been forced to stop production, leading to millions of workers losing their livelihoods. 
 
For John Beckett, employers’ vice-chair, who maintained that occupational health and safety was a priority for the employers globally, said: “We are confident this code of practice will provide a practical basis for employers, workers and governments to work together to advance OSH prevention culture in the textile, clothing, leather and footwear manufacturing.”
 
According to the first joint estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO), work-related diseases and injuries caused by exposure to 19 occupational risk factors were responsible for the deaths of 1.9 million people in 2016.
 
In relation to non-fatal occupational accidents, ILO estimates reveal over 360 million cases in 2016, representing an increase when compared to the figures of 2010 (340 million). More than four per cent of the world’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) is lost as a consequence of work-related injuries and diseases.

Director of the ILO Sectoral Policies Department, Alette van Leur, added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us of how important safety and health, and a human-centred approach are  if we want to build forward better. I am hopeful that as these industries rebound, the new code of practice will serve as a basis for developing national or company OSH management systems and contribute to the overall improvements of working conditions in this sector and beyond.”

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