BWI releases position paper on core OHS conventions

As part of its various efforts to persuade the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to declare and recognise occupational health and safety as a fundamental right, BWI released a position paper on ILO Convention 155 on Occupational Safety and Health (1981) and ILO Convention 161 on Occupational Health Services (1985) as the core to secure the right to a safe and healthy working environment. 

BWI released the paper leading to this year’s commemoration of International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April. It said that there is absolute consensus that C155 is the core Convention on OSH, setting out core principles, responsibilities and rights on workplace health and safety. It also said that Convention 161 is closely linked with C155 given the close relationship between the development of a national OSH policy and the establishment of occupational health services. 

BWI asserted that the 1998 declaration must be amended to include the fundamental right to a safe and healthy working environment as ILO’s fifth fundamental right. Currently, the four fundamental rights are: the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. The said four fundamental rights are each supported by two Conventions that are considered to be core to those rights. 

Guided by this framework, BWI wants C155 and C161to be included as “core conventions” to secure the right to a safe and healthy working environment, with ILO Convention 187 on a Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health (2006) acting as a complementary convention.  

BWI urged all its affiliates to use the position paper to push for C155 and C161 to be the core of OSH Conventions. It said that with OHS declared as a fundamental right, countless workers’ lives could be saved, and it will prevent untold suffering from many work-related ill health.


Download the paper here.