As we mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April, focus is on building resilient occupational safety and health (OSH) systems as we emerge gradually from COVID-19. The global pandemic has put the health and safety of workers on the agenda like never before. We need to build on this experience to be even better prepared in the future.
In the matter of just days and weeks in early 2020, the workplace environment completely shifted for millions and millions of workers around the world. To halt the rapid spread of the coronavirus, immediate, and often drastic, measures were put in place. Teleworking, social distancing and hygiene measures were put in place. Physical and face-to-face contact with colleagues or clients were restricted. In addition, reporting and routines were sharpened to ensure effective follow-up if any staff had been infected.
Social security institutions were no exception. The International Social Security Association (ISSA) early documented how internal process and human resources were adapted, and how e-services were leveraged in order to maintain service delivery in a situation where the health and safety of both staff and clients demanded it. Through the Corona Prevention Monitor, the ISSA documented prevention measures around the world.
“The health and safety of both staff and clients has been at the centre of attention for social security institutions during the pandemic,” said Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano, ISSA Secretary General. Recently, the ISSA produced an analysis of how social security institutions in Latin America have been promoting a culture of prevention. The analysis, which builds on good practices submitted by ISSA member institutions in the region, demonstrated how quick and innovative action, including increased use of digital channels, made a crucial difference.
Occupational safety and health will continue to be high on the agenda of the ISSA. Already in October 2020, the World Congress Digital Meeting demonstrated how COVID-19 had accelerated OSH innovation, and we will learn more about this when we get to the XXII World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in September 2021. This will also be an occasion to take stock of the Vision Zero strategy to eliminate accidents, disease and harm at work, which recently reached 15,000 supporters worldwide.