ILO Meeting of Experts adopts revised Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Construction 

After a week of negotiations between governments, employers and trade unions, workers in the construction sector worldwide will now benefit from a new code of practice with concrete guidance on improving health and safety.


The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) participated in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Experts’ Meeting to revise the 1992 Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Construction. Monica Tepfer of Argentina’s Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) chaired the Workers’ Experts, Advisers and Observers. 


Based on international labour standards and other sectoral codes of practice, the Code provides comprehensive and practical guidance on eliminating, reducing, and controlling all significant hazards and risks in the sector. This includes chemical substances, ergonomic and physical hazards, tools, machines and equipment.


During the week, crucial OHS elements in construction were discussed, and critical features negotiated. Throughout the meeting, the workers’ group pushed against undermining the rights of workers representatives, social dialogue, and collective bargaining, which met great resistance by the employers represented in the meeting. Finally, the workers’ group ensured that the ILO Fundamental Rights were upheld as a critical component to OHS, and explicit protections for workers’ representatives were retrieved and articulated in line with Recommendation 164. 


Among the other accomplishments of the workers’ experts’ contributions is the adaptation of a significant new section on hazardous substances, including asbestos was gained and, for the first time within ILO, the protection against psychosocial risks. And a clear connection was acknowledged between construction and disaster management, and the need to take OHS measures into account when developing just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all.


The revised Code of Practice will come into force after approval by the ILO governing body in November 2022.