Republic of Korea ratifies ILO Safety and Health Convention

The Republic of Korea has recently ratified a new ILO Convention, the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health, Convention No. 187. This ratification will bring this important international labour standard designed to promote a “preventive safety and health culture” into force in the next 12 months.The Republic of Korea is the second, after Japan to ratify ILO Convention No. 187 adopted at the 95th International Labour Conference in Geneva in June 2006.

The ILO estimates that some 42,000 workers die each week worldwide as a result of work-related accidents or illnesses. The total cost of such accidents and ill health have been estimated by the ILO to equal 4 per cent of global GDP, or more than 20 times the global amount of official development assistance.

“Most accidents can be prevented”, says Dr. Sameera Al-Tuwaijri, Director of the ILO’s Safework department. “The Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention establishes a framework which promotes the development of a ‘preventative safety and health culture’ at the national level.”

“By bringing Convention No. 187 into force, the Republic of Korea and Japan not only commit themselves to reinforce their occupational safety and health (OSH) system but also to encourage other countries to follow suit. This is a practical step for creating safe and healthy workplaces for all workers”, Dr. Al-Tuwaijri said.

As a promotional framework Convention, Convention No. 187 is designed to provide for coherent and systematic treatment of occupational safety and health and promote recognition of existing conventions on occupational safety and health, including the Occupational Safety and Health Convention of 1981 (No. 155) which the Republic of Korea also ratified last month. The two Conventions are aimed at establishing and implementing coherent national policies on OSH through dialogue between government, workers’ and employers’ organizations.

Before ratifying the two ILO Conventions, the Republic of Korea had already launched a Five-Year Industrial Accident Prevention Plan in 2005 – the second in 10 years – to ensure the safety and health of all workers and promote clean working environments. To achieve this, the government determined five major policy tasks, such as intensively managing areas vulnerable in terms of health and safety, promoting voluntary industrial accident prevention activities, promoting workers’ health, making workplaces more accountable for accidents, and advancing industrial safety and health.

Jung Min O, Labour Attaché of the Republic of Korea in Geneva, said “the Korean government is committed to the improvement of occupational safety and health. The ratification of these two key ILO OSH Conventions reflects the government policy to strengthen national action for further reduction of occupational accidents and diseases and the creation of a better working environment for all workers. With the ratification of Convention No. 187, the government will continue to improve national OSH systems and programmes. We believe that the XVIII World Congress on Safety and Health (Note 1) will provide a good opportunity to exchange successful experiences on national OSH systems and programmes.”

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