April 28 – International Day of Dead and Injured is celebrated in more than 100 countries, around the world, including Georgia.
On International Workers’ Remembrance Day, the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation joins the demand of the World Trade Unions for the International Labour Organization to recognize “Occupational Health and Safety at Work” as a fundamental right, as well as:
- The right to recognition of freedom of association and of effective collective bargaining;
- Abolition of forced or compulsory labour;
- Elimination of child labour;
- Prohibition of discrimination in the workplace.
2.6 million people worldwide die each year from work-related injuries and occupational diseases. The current situation has been aggravated by the pandemic. Therefore, it is important that occupational safety and health be considered as a fundamental right. In addition, it is necessary to recognize “Covid-19” as an occupational disease.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) 2019 Declaration, adopted unanimously by governments, employers and trade unions, includes a promise to protect the health and safety of workers in the workplace. In addition, a similar condition is contained in the ILO charter. The World Health Organization has already recognized health as a fundamental human right.
The International Trade Union Confederation and its members call on governments to:
- Ratify and implement key ILO conventions on health and safety (# 81, # 129, # 155, # 176, # 187);
- Establish national health and safety bodies, where trade unions and employers’ representatives will be represented together;
- Make healthcare services available and recognize Covid-19 as an occupational disease.
Occupational safety has always been a priority for Georgian Trade Unions Confederation, as there is no greater value than human life and health. Industrial accident statistics are the best indicator for assessing the state of occupational safety in the country.
According to workplace accident statistics for the last four years, there has been a decline in lethality rates, although the situation remains dire, namely:
- 59 died in 2018, 199 seriously injured;
- 45 died in 2019, 168 were seriously injured;
- 39 died in 2020, 249 were seriously injured;
- 33 died in 2021, 253 were seriously injured.
In recent years, important steps have been taken in Georgia to improve the labour safety situation with the initiative and active involvement of the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation. Laws on “Labour Safety” and “Labor Inspection” have been enacted. The Labour Inspection Service has been established as a separate legal entity under public law with an increased mandate to oversee labour standards in all sectors of the economy. An advisory body to the Labour Inspection Service – the Advisory Board – has been set up.
We have made progress in drafting and perfecting the above-mentioned labour safety legislation, however, the same cannot be said for the by-laws.
By – laws of Georgia The “Technical Regulations”, which came into force in 2013, cover only a certain part of economic activity. Accordingly, in areas where occupational safety issues are not regulated by Georgian legislation, both employers and regulators should be guided by Soviet regulations in force prior to 1992. Consequently, supervisors in these areas of activity do not have a legal mechanism for imposing administrative penalties on employers, even if violations are found in the workplace.
Improving the legal framework and strict enforcement of the law is necessary to improve the labour safety situation in the country. The main indicators for assessing the state of occupational safety are statistics on industrial accidents and occupational diseases, which are not yet recorded by the state.
We believe, that for the improvement of the labour safety situation and reduce accidents at work, it is important for the state to take effective measures, in particular, to improve the legal framework and create an effective law enforcement system.