Health workers contributing towards safety and health in a “green” economy.
World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated every year on April 28 to highlight the emerging trends in the field of occupational safety and health. The theme of this year is promoting safety and health in a green economy.
Recent times have seen a surge in environmentally-friendly activities such as recycling and improved waste disposal systems which have a positive effect on the global environment. However, without appropriate action this trend can come at the cost of workers’ lives and health.
Green jobs cover broad spectrum of activities involving new technologies - such as the manufacture and installation of solar panels, work on wind turbines, waste recycling, work on contaminated sites etc. The shift towards green jobs being a fairly new phenomenon may mean that not all enterprises have appropriate safety and health management systems in place. Workers may be exposed to a range of risks such as exposure to harmful materials, operating dangerous machinery - thereby increasing the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities.
With this tendency towards a greener economy and its related impact on the health and safety of workers, the need for increased numbers of skilled, motivated and facilitated health workers is greater than ever. But the world currently has a shortage of over 4.2 million health workers. How will the world be able to face the increasing challenges faced by such threats if the health workforce crisis is not resolved?
To address working conditions in the health sector, the Alliance supported the ‘Positive Practice Environments’ (PPE) Campaign, a worldwide campaign - to generate public awareness and political will to introduce and maintain improved working conditions and environments within health systems. The campaign is a country and facility-centred initiative focusing on all health care settings with the aim to improve the quality of health services by raising awareness, identifying good practice, developing tools for managers and health professionals in the field.
Momentum is needed to sustain the current efforts towards increasing the numbers of health workers. Quality of training and working conditions of health workers must be seen as a priority to cope with the safety and health demands of jobs in a green economy.
As we mark World Day for Safety and Health we must remember the critical role played by health workers in reversing and resolving global health issues and help reduce suffering.