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Milton Allimadi on US Media’s Africa Reporting

Milton Allimadi on US Media’s Africa Reporting

    (Kendall Hunt, 2021) This week on CounterSpin: The primary “sense” of Sub-Saharan Africa in corporate media is absence. When Africa is discussed, it’s often been, to put it simply, as a material resource and as a staging ground for Great Nation politics and proxy war. Not as far removed as it ought to […]

Canada will host the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health, virtually connecting delegates from more than 125 countries

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Canada will host the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health, virtually connecting delegates from more than 125 countries

GENEVA (ILO News) – Toronto, Ontario, Canada will host the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work under the theme of Prevention in the Connected Age: global solutions to achieve safe and healthy work for all. The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) […]

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WHO/ILO: Almost 2 million people die from work-related causes each year

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WHO/ILO: Almost 2 million people die from work-related causes each year

© Dren Pozhegu GENEVA (ILO News) – Work-related diseases and injuries were responsible for the deaths of 1.9 million people in 2016, according to the first joint estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Labour Organization (ILO). According to the WHO/ILO Joint Estimates of the Work-related Burden of Disease and Injury, 2000-2016: Global Monitoring Report, the majority of work-related deaths were due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Non-communicable diseases accounted for 81 per cent of the deaths. The greatest causes of deaths were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (450,000 deaths); stroke (400,000 deaths) and ischaemic heart disease (350,000 deaths). Occupational injuries caused 19 per cent of deaths (360,000 deaths). The study considers 19 occupational risk factors, including exposure to long working hours and workplace exposure to air pollution, asthmagens, carcinogens, ergonomic risk factors, and noise. The key risk was exposure to long working hours – linked to approximately 750,000 deaths. Workplace exposure to air pollution (particulate matter, gases and fumes) was responsible for 450,000 deaths. “It’s shocking to see so many people literally being killed by their jobs,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Our report is a wake-up call to countries and businesses to improve and protect the health and safety of workers by honouring their commitments to provide universal coverage of occupational health and safety services.” Work-related diseases and injuries strain health systems, reduce productivity and can have a catastrophic impact on household incomes, the report warns. Globally, work-related deaths per population fell by 14 per cent between 2000 and 2016. This may reflect improvements in workplace health and safety, the report says. However, deaths from heart disease and stroke associated with exposure to long working hours rose by 41 and 19 per cent respectively. This reflects an increasing trend in this relatively new and psychosocial occupational risk factor. This first WHO/ILO joint global monitoring report will enable policy makers to track work-related health loss at country, regional and global levels. This allows for more focused scoping, planning, costing, implementation and evaluation of appropriate interventions to improve workers’ population health and health equity. The report shows that more action is needed to ensure healthier, safer, more resilient and more socially just workplaces, with a central role played by workplace health promotion and occupational health services. Each risk factor has a unique set of preventive actions, which are outlined in the monitoring report to guide governments, in consultation with employers and workers. For example, the prevention of exposure to long working hours requires agreement on healthy maximum limits on working time. To reduce workplace exposure to air pollution, dust control, ventilation, and personal protective equipment is recommended. “These estimates provide important information on the work-related burden of disease, and this information can help to shape policies and practices to create healthier and safer workplaces,” said Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General. “Governments, employers and workers can all take actions to reduce exposure to risk factors at the workplace. Risk factors can also be reduced or eliminated through changes in work patterns and systems. As a last resort personal protective equipment can also help to protect workers whose jobs mean they cannot avoid exposure.” “These almost 2 million premature deaths are preventable. Action needs to be taken based on the research available to target the evolving nature of work-related health threats,” said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at WHO. “Ensuring health and safety among workers is a shared responsibility of the health and labour sector, as is leaving no workers behind in this regard. In the spirit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, health and labour must work together, hand in hand, to ensure that this large disease burden is eliminated.” “International labour standards and WHO/ILO tools and guidelines give a solid basis to implement strong, effective and sustainable occupational safety and health systems at different levels. Following them should help to significantly reduce these deaths and disabilities,” said Vera Paquete-Perdigao, Director of the Governance and Tripartism Department at ILO. A disproportionately large number of work-related deaths occur in workers in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, and males and people aged over 54 years. The report notes that total work-related burden of disease is likely substantially larger, as health loss from several other occupational risk factors must still be quantified in the future. Moreover, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will add another dimension to this burden to be captured in future estimates. These estimates are published ahead of the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health, which meets virtually 20 – 23 September, 2021.Note for editors: In May 2021, WHO and ILO released the first ever study that quantified the burdens of heart disease and stroke attributable to exposure to long working hours (i.e., 750,000 deaths). This study established long working hours as the risk factor with the largest work-related disease burden. Today, with the publication of the global monitoring report, WHO and ILO launch their global comparative risk assessment of the work-related burden of disease. This covers 19 occupational risk factors. It is WHO’s most comprehensive study of work-related burden of disease, and the first ever joint assessment of its kind with ILO. A visualization of country-level disease burden, with gender and age breakdowns, is available online.For more information please contact:ILO Contacts:

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Protect and manage mental health at workplace in time of COVID-19

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Protect and manage mental health at workplace in time of COVID-19

Mental health has become the concern of the ILO long before the COVID-19 was declared as a global pandemic in March last year. Grace Monica Halim, Technical Officer of the ILO Geneva, highlighted that mental health problems at work cost the global economy up to US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. In Switzerland, for example, the cost of work-related stress during the pandemic increased by 600 million Swiss Francs each month from 7.6 billion pre-pandemic. Teleworking has brought new stresses, as workers find themselves isolated or juggling family and professional responsibilities She explained that work-related stress includes a variety of conditions, such as overwork, job insecurity and blurred work-life balance. Thus, she emphasized the importance of managing work stress to help reduce the risk of work injury that may result in lost days on the job and negative effects on productivity.

The employers have a key role to ensure workers’ welfare by addressing mental health issues through occupational safety and health (OSH) management.”
Grace Monica Halim, Technical Officer of the ILO Geneva

“The employers have a key role to ensure workers’ welfare by addressing mental health issues through occupational safety and health (OSH) management,” she stated before more than 2,200 viewers of the interactive webinar, “Pandemic Taking Toll on Mental Health of Workers: How ‘Smart Working’ Works?” on 9 September. The webinar was jointly organized by ILO and Tempo, a leading media in Indonesia. The webinar also marked the first webinar series of the ILO’s Enhancing COVID-19 Prevention at and through Workplaces Project. Funded by Government of Japan, it aims to share best practices and key inputs to the recovery of COVID-19 that can leave economies, enterprises and workers on a stronger footing during and after the pandemic.The increasing problem of mental health was also showed by Tempo’s quick survey conducted for the webinar. The survey revealed that 72.4 percent from 2,700 readers admitted that COVID-19 has affected their mental health with financial insecurity and lack of work-life balance as the main causes. Grace M. Halim Responding to the survey, Grace underscored the crucial role of workplaces as a venue to break stigma against mental health. Negative stigma against mental health has discouraged workers reluctant to be opened with their real mental conditions. “Health issues are not only physical, but also mental. Stress can cause other effects, including work accidents, decreased work quality,” she stated.The role of managers are therefore, according to Grace, more crucial to support their team to understand and speak up their mental health. “The pandemic has pushed us to acknowledge mental health issues as part of the workplace issues. When we think of OSH, mental health should also be at the forefront of our minds,” she added. Three ILO Conventions Nos. 155, 161 and 187 cover mental health issues under the principles of OSH policies. Thus, what could be done at the workplace to help address and promote workers’ well-being? According to Grace, the answer was clear: social dialogue. “As encourage by the ILO, social dialogue has been recognized as a means to improve labour condition through constructive cooperation between employers and workers.”

Indonesia can adopt global best practices in time of crisis to better address workers’ mental health. Malaysia, Chile, European countries and USA are few countries that have developed practical guidelines and policies on workers’ mental health and wellbeing.”

Through social dialogues, both employers and workers can play active roles in creating a working environment that is psychologically safe. Apart from it, employers can create a supportive work culture through risk assessments and generate strategy with cross-functional approach by integrating human resources, risk managements and OSH management—a strategy that will intertwine workplace good practices as well as the elimination and prevention of risks.“Indonesia can adopt global best practices in time of crisis to better address workers’ mental health. Malaysia, Chile, European countries and USA are few countries that have developed practical guidelines and policies on workers’ mental health and wellbeing. A website, as a resource hub to navigate mental health information and guide people to necessary support needed, is also one of the ways,” told Grace. ILO has developed Stress Prevention at Work Checkpoints to improve workplace conditions and preventing stress at work that is also available online and in mobile application. This is essential for national authorities, companies, trade unions, OSH practitioners and other relevant parties to manage workplace stress prevention. It is in line with the ILO’s effort to build a strong and resilient OSH management, promote decent work, and social dialogue.The livestreaming of the interactive webinar can be viewed on ILO TV Indonesia.

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Google illegally underpaid thousands of temps in at least 16 nations

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Google illegally underpaid thousands of temps in at least 16 nations

Google illegally underpaid thousands of temp workers in at least 16 countries, attempted to cover up the problem and delayed fixing the problem for more than two years, according to reports in the The Guardian and The New York Times. Despite the fact much of Google’s violations of labor laws took place in the UK, […]

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Smart working to maintain workers’ mental health for business continuity in time of the pandemic

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Smart working to maintain workers’ mental health for business continuity in time of the pandemic

Declared as a pandemic in March 2020, the COVID-19 has negatively impacted more than 29 million Indonesian workers. In addition to various economic problems causing business closures, reduction of workforce, the pandemic has increased the cases of domestic violence and disrupted workers’ mental health.

A woman worker working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic

A quick survey by Tempo.co found that 72.4 percent of 2,700 readers participated in the survey admitted to having mental health problems. The is in line with the findings of Ipsos and the World Economic Forum which recorded 13,000 workers in 28 countries experienced mental disorders due to precarious employment and changes in routine.Mental health problems among workers have negatively affected the global economy to US$ 1 trillion in lost productivity. In Switzerland, for example, the cost of work-related stress during the pandemic has increased 600 million Swiss Francs per month from 7.6 billion Swiss Francs before the outbreak. The trend of increased cases of mental health problems during the pandemic was discussed in the virtual discussion Ngobrol@Tempo entitled “Pandemic Taking Toll on Workers’ Mental Health: How ‘Smart Working’ Works” on Thursday, 9 September. The Director of Mental Health and Drugs at the Ministry of Health, Celestinus Eigya Munthe, confirmed the increasing cases of 6.8% anxiety and 8.5% depression. “The Ministry of Health noted that in 2020, 18,000 people experienced mental disorders, 23,000 suffered from depression and 1,163 attempted suicides. Therefore, the government has provided telemedicine services through an application named Sehat Jiwa, where workers can do free consultation and counselling to cope with workplace stress,” he said.The mental health problems experienced by workers, if not addressed immediately, may lead to lower business productivity. This would pose a potential threat to the government’s attempts to recover the conditions of economy and health.For this reason, Nuri Purwito Adi, University of Indonesia’s Head of Specialist on Occupational Medicine Study Programme, emphasized the importance of recognizing mental disorders mainly caused by psychological and emotional factors. The observed signs range from psychosomatic symptoms and nausea to significant behaviour changes and use of drugs. He suggested that workers who desire to maintain a good work-life balance need to have good communications with their family and company. “We need to know when we act as worker and as a household member. Time commitment should be agreed within the work team,” said Nuri.

Interactive talkshow on workers’ mental health in time of the pandemic

Hence, how do companies anticipate the threat of mental health problems for their employees? The representative of PT Mitsubishi Motors Krama Yudha Indonesia, Rakhmat Aji Pratomo, said that the company has developed a mitigation mechanism by forming a special team for COVID-19 prevention. In addition to ensuring health protocols and conditions in the workplace, this team focuses on mental health of workers. The team implements and monitors the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by the company on, among others, working hours, health service supports, work assignments and employees’ mobility, especially when working from home. “The company also closely works with the trade union. To realize decent work, the involvement of workers in decision-making is significantly important. The activities can be simple, for example, by delivering food gift to worker’s home,’’ shared Aji.Meanwhile, Grace Monica Halim, Technical Staff of ILO Geneva, underscored that mental health has become the concern of the ILO long before the COVID-19 was declared as a global pandemic. “Health issues are not only physical, but also mental. Stress can cause other effects, including work accidents, decreased work quality,” she stated. Three ILO’s Conventions Nos. 155, 161 and 187 cover mental health issues under the principles of occupational safety and health (OSH). In relations to smart working, Grace said that it is part of decent work. “Because smart working is human-centered. The point is that workers must know their rights,” she stressed. Negative stigma against workers with mental health disorders remains a big challenge for workers to ask for help. “They do not have courage to seek help as they are afraid of being stigmatized,” explained Grace, stressing that this kind of perception need to be eliminated immediately for the benefits of workers and the company. “For this reason, the ILO always encourages dialogue between workers and employers to eliminate stigmas like this.”Furthermore, to ensure business continuity and job security during the pandemic, including workers’ mental health, the ILO is currently initiating a COVID-19 risk assessment service in the workplace targeting 1,500 workplaces in Indonesia. Through this service, companies will be provided with technical assistance to be able to safely continue and expand business operations during the pandemic. For registration and further information, please visit ilocovidproject.id.

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In-Person Workers Slow to Return to Jobs, Data Shows

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In-Person Workers Slow to Return to Jobs, Data Shows

This report from Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, detailed show in-person workers, those who cannot telecommute, are reluctant to return to work as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. By Tim Henderson, Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts — Donald Trinks is seeing both sides of the labor problem in his restaurant: […]

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Marjorie Cohn on Texas Abortion Law, Kimberly Inez McGuire on Abortion Realities

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Marjorie Cohn on Texas Abortion Law, Kimberly Inez McGuire on Abortion Realities

  (cc photo: Beth Wilson) This week on CounterSpin: Many people will know that the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973, enshrining women’s right to access abortion—to choose when and whether to have a child. It seemed to signal recognition that abortion is healthcare, that most women who have abortions are mothers […]

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ILO-Ministry of Manpower launch a Guideline for Labour Inspection in Time of Pandemic

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ILO-Ministry of Manpower launch a Guideline for Labour Inspection in Time of Pandemic

The Indonesian Ministry of Manpower, with support from the ILO, recently issued and launched a Guideline for Labor Inspection in Time of Pandemic on 2 September, as a response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the world of work. The Guideline aims to optimize the performance of labour inspectors in dealing with new ways of working such as working from home, digitalization, e-commerce and flexible working hours.

The launch of Labour Inspection Guideline in the Time of the Pandemic

Haiyani Rumondang, Director General on Labour Inspection and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), stated that the Guideline is aspired to improve the quality and effectiveness of labour inspection mechanisms to be more integrated and credible. “It is part of the Ministerial labour inspection reform under our nine key strategy programmes that also include, among others, transformations in learning centers, job link and match, industrial relations, digitalization and youth employment,” she said before more than 2,100 viewers and participants.“The Guideline can help labour inspectors dealing with inspection challenges faced during the pandemic and safeguarding the application of labour compliance and international labour standards,” Michiko stated, adding that it could also enhance the contribution of labour inspectors to the prevention of COVID-19 at workplaces.Referring to the Manpower Ministerial Decree No. 33 of 2016 on Labour Inspection Procedures, the Guideline provides instructions for labour inspectors on inspection procedures during a pandemic, starting with planning, implementation and reporting. The Guideline also introduces the use of technology, such as drones, in conducting highly effective surveillance activities in time of pandemic.Good practices on online labour inspection mechanisms

Welcoming the use of technology for labour inspection, Angga Suanggana, a labour inspector from the Provincial Manpower Office of Yogyakarta, shared his online labour inspection programme through video inspections, zoom meetings and online inspection forms. “Out of 57 companies, 40 companies have taken part in our online inspections. More socialization to companies are needed as not all companies are familiar with this new, online approach,” Angga told.Similarly, Bukti Rantau, a labour inspector from the Provincial Manpower Office of Riau Islands, has made the best use of smartphone and smart application to conduct online labour inspection. “Due to the geographic nature of Riau Islands and the travel restriction, we need to apply the online mechanism. However, we do not only focus on labour compliance issues, but also cover issues on industrial relations and protection of workers,” he said.At the enterprise level, Sri Melga Rahmawati, Compliance Manager & Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Expert of PT Shinwon Indonesia, and Achmad A. Miftakhurrohman, General Manager of PT Pertamina Hulu Energi Offshore North West (PHE ONWJ, also focused on the online inspection mechanisms to protect both workers and the companies. Both companies focused on daily inspections by conducting online health assessments, health protocols and vaccinations as well as by strengthening the roles of the company’s OSH Committee. Independent and self-audit mechanism was also promoted by the Better Work Indonesia (BWI) programme, a partnership between the ILO and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), member of World Bank Group, to its hundreds of participating factories in garment sector. Nenden Aminah, Team Leader and Head of Compliance Assessment Tools (CAT) Focal Point BWI, explained that the BWI has developed various online mechanisms, including virtual company’s tour, virtual services through the OSH Committee and the Bipartite Cooperation as well as virtual compliance check. Maintaining balance between online and offline inspections
Commenting on the usage of technology and the application of online inspection mechanism, Rene Robert, ILO’s Specialist on Labour Administration and Labour Inspecton, reminded the participants the importance of on-site inspections. “Self-assessments are not a substitute for labour inspectors as the important roles of the inspectors include to directly speak and interview workers in a confidential way and to get the full insights about the real condition,” he said.In addition, he also explained that in time of the pandemic, labour inspectors crucially need to focus on occupational illnesses and diseases, particularly the infectious disease management. “This is also the highlight of the ASEAN Labour Inspection Conference 2021. Therefore, labour inspections should maintain well-coordination with public health authorities,” he concluded.The ILO’s support to the Guideline was given through its Occupational Safety and Health and Income Support in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic Project. Funded by the Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Project aims to strengthening OSH measures to facilitate return to work in acceptable conditions of safety and health after COVID 19 lockdown, particularly in garment sector.

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10 Charts on the State of U.S. Workers on the 2nd Pandemic Labor Day

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10 Charts on the State of U.S. Workers on the 2nd Pandemic Labor Day

As we mark the second Labor Day under the pandemic, Americans at the top of the income ladder are seeing their fortunes balloon as working families continue to struggle. Frontline workers are reeling from rising infection risks and tensions over mask and vaccine mandates. The unemployed, who are disproportionately workers of color, are facing the […]

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