Created in partnership with the Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights

Occupational Safety and Health

Each day, 7,500 people die from unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and many others develop long-term physical and mental health issues.

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Contextual Risk Factors

The prevention of inadequate safety and health in the workplace requires an understanding of its underlying causes and the considerations of a wide range of issues that often interfere and reinforce one another.

Key risk factors include:

  • Weak national occupational safety and health systems, lack of Government capacity to develop and implement OSH policies and programmes, or underdeveloped OSH qualification frameworks that lead to a scarcity of OSH specialists and services.
  • Poor regulatory framework that may not adequately cover all sectors, groups of workers, or occupational hazards.
  • Poorly enforced domestic laws can result in inadequate operations of labour inspectorates, poorly planned inspections and insufficient training of labour inspectors, as well as potential corruption.
  • Prevailing work culture may not prioritize the value of prevention. If hazardous activities and substances are not properly labelled or explained, workers may not know the risks they face.
  • Shortage of decent work can lead workers to accept roles or undertake dangerous or harmful work out of desperation for work.
  • High proportion of workers in the informal economy can make it difficult to trace supply chains and present significant challenges for businesses implementing OSH processes. Additionally, informal workers may not be reporting OSH risks or issues for fear of losing work.
  • Discrimination or cultural stigma may lead workers to hide disabilities from employers or prevent employers from making adequate protections for affected persons, for instance not hiring people with physical disabilities.