What is OSH?

Occupational Safety and Health deals with all aspects of health and safety in the workplace and has a strong focus on primary prevention of hazards. Its goal is to prevent accidents and harm to people from work-related activities.

Why is OSH relevant to business?

Employers have primary responsibility for the occupational safety and health of workers as they have the authority to organise their business activities and conduct risk assessments. Governments must set the frameworks to enable employers to provide flexible solutions to manage their activities. The involvement of employers, workers and governments is central to helping deliver OSH performance at the workplace. OSH performance is key to reputation management, particularly where businesses depend on the relationship with global consumers. It can affect a company’s ability to attract investment capital or even the cost of capital itself, on which job and wealth creation depend. Research has shown that safety and well-being at the workplace equals good business and profitability.

What is the IOE’s position on OSH?

Workplaces must be safe. Occupational safety and health is an important priority of the IOE. The efficient management of OSH risks is best achieved by instilling a safety culture within the organisation; adopting a preventive approach; utilising risk management and control principles; aligning OSH management systems with other business operations; involving all at the workplace; and respecting minimum legal standards. The IOE supports a basic legal framework, supported by effective enforcement at national level. However, successful OSH performance requires more than this and there are many other worthy initiatives driven by companies or employers’ organisations that deserve consideration. The IOE supports the replacement of a piecemeal approach to the development of legal instruments by pursuing:

  • A programme to review the relevance of current standards (ILO Standards Review Mechanism);
  • A flexible approach as offered in the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health (C187, 2006);
  • The development of practical guidance and codes of practice which will assist employers.

How does the IOE’s work on OSH advance the agenda for business?

The IOE will continue to represent the interests of employers in the development of standards and other instruments for OSH at international level. The IOE develops guidance on OSH areas of interest to its members and employers, in particular focusing on topics where other international bodies have not developed authoritative guidance or information. The IOE is leading the Global Occupational Safety and Health (GOSH) network, including senior safety and health risk management and sustainability professionals from multinational enterprises and employers organisations, to debate current and emerging global OSH issues on a confidential basis.