Vision Zero: Social security and prevention go hand-in-hand


Vision Zero: Social security and prevention go hand-in-hand

On the occasion of the one-year anniversary of the Vision Zero campaign, the ISSA called on social security institutions to engage in the campaign and take a more proactive role in prevention. Safety, health and well-being at work are of vital importance for social security. Every day, prevention saves lives and protects the health and well-being of individuals and families. In addition, investing in prevention generates socio-economic benefits for society, improves the competitiveness of business and has a positive impact on the sustainability of social security schemes.

“Unfortunately, when it comes to work injuries many social security administrations still mainly have the role of payers as they cover health costs and pay out compensation and long term benefits after an accident or occupational disease has occurred. We believe that social security institutions should become more proactive and preventive and contribute to avoiding work injuries in the first place - We want them to become players”, Secretary General Hans-Horst Konkolewsky stated in a video message on the occasion of the anniversary of the Vision Zero campaign.

This is why the ISSA has developed a new prevention strategy and last year launched a global Vision Zero campaign based on the belief that all occupational accidents, harm and disease are preventable. It provides a roadmap with 7 Golden Rules that supports companies in building a culture of prevention that integrates both safety, health and well-being at work.

New challenges: an increased need for preventive measures

The background for the campaign is serious as an estimated 2.78 million people die yearly as a result of work-related accidents and diseases – corresponding to over 7500 deaths every single day – and 374 million suffer non-fatal workplace accidents. In addition new occupational risks are emerging linked with globalization and changes in the workplace. Increased migration flows, demographic changes and the rise in atypical employment are creating new challenges for prevention. New technologies and working patterns and the challenges of psychosocial risks and work-related stress affect the life and health of workers and increase the complexity of prevention even more. These global trends require new and more holistic preventive measures.

Prevention pays: socio-economic benefits

Occupational accidents and diseases lead to unacceptable human suffering for the affected workers and their families and have as well a tremendous negative impact on the economic and social development of societies as a whole. According to ILO estimates, every year 4% of the world’s gross domestic product is lost due to work injuries.

Investing in preventive measures can lead to a significant decrease in occupational accidents and diseases. Besides moral and ethical considerations, further investment in prevention also makes sense economically. Studies both for developed and emerging economies have demonstrated that investments in prevention generate a significant return. Furthermore, successful preventive measures for occupational accidents and diseases are beneficial not only to work injury insurance systems but also to other social security schemes such as pension systems and general healthcare.

From ‘payers’ to ‘players’: the role of social security institutions

Promoting the safety, health and well-being of workers is a crucial factor for the sustainability of social security schemes. Social security institutions can have a beneficial influence on prevention efforts by contributing to safe and healthy workplaces. Three sets of ISSA Guidelines on the topics of the Prevention of Occupational Risks, Workplace Health Promotion and Return to Work and Reintegration provide a blueprint for how social security institutions can develop their capacities and shift from being passive ‘payers’ of work-related compensation claims to active  ‘players’ providing prevention and rehabilitation services.

Join the Vision Zero campaign

On the first anniversary of the campaign, 2500 companies, organisations and trainers have committed to Vision Zero. “Social security institutions are critical to the success of the campaign as they have privileged relations with the companies they insure against work injuries and can motivate and support them in building a strong prevention culture. I look forward to many more ISSA member organisations joining the campaign, actively supporting our vision of a world of work without accidents, disease and harm”, Secretary General Hans-Horst Konkolewsky concluded.