ILO urges Sri Lanka to improve acquiring of OSH data

According to the latest ILO estimates, 1.4 million work-related deaths occur annually in Asia and the Pacific out of the 2.3 million worldwide. This means the region accounts for 70 per cent of global fatal occupational accidents and 60 per cent of work-related fatal diseases. Most work-related deaths and non-fatal accidents occur in low- and middle-income countries of the region. However, in reality, the situation in Asia-Pacific is likely worse due to severe underreporting.

This year’s World Day for Safety and Health emphasized the critical need for countries to improve their capacity to collect and utilize reliable occupational safety and health (OSH) data. With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the capacity to collect and utilize reliable OSH data is even more crucial for achieving country commitments to implement and report on progress made to achieve the SDGs. OSH data is important to achieve Target 8.8 of Goal 8 of the SDGs by 2030, specifically the "protection of labour rights and promotion of safe and secure working environment for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants and those in precarious employment."

Addressing the gathering, Ms. Simrin Singh, ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, mentioned, "Sri Lanka needs to urgently improve her capacity to collect and utilize reliable occupational safety and health data for prevention purposes. Prevention is better than cure. It not only benefits all, it is also the responsibility of all." This sentiment was echoed by Ms. Ramya Jamburegoda, Director of Occupational Hygiene at NIOSH, who added that the theme of the OSH Day and this event could not be timelier. She called for OSH data reporting to be considered a "national requirement", and the responsibility of multiple actors. T.M.R. Rasseedin, Deputy Secretary General, NATURE, noted the serious level of underreporting in Sri Lanka and emphasised the need to improve the current system, putting in place coordination mechanisms and regulations. He noted that "the most pressing issue for the labour movement is to push for the ratification of ILO Convention No. 155, only then can we put the entire house in order." Kanishka Weerasinghe, Director General, Employers Federation of Ceylon, stated that a healthy workforce is indispensable for the productivity of the industries and OSH data is extremely important so that employers can invest more on prevention. Lastly, A. Wimalaweera, Senior Assistant Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Trade Union relations, confirmed that the current system to collect OSH data requires further improvement noting that "we cannot manage [OSH] if we are not measuring."

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