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News » OSH measures combat workplace abuse – ILO

OSH measures combat workplace abuse – ILO

Over 20% of employees have experienced such abuse that can also happen during commutes and in home-based offices. Photo from the ILO / Youtube

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — A new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) emphasizes using Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) measures to address violence and harassment (V&H) in the workplace. 

OSH refers to the discipline dealing with the prevention of work-related injuries and diseases and with the protection and promotion of the health of workers. It aims to improve working conditions and the working environment, according to ILO.

The report finds over 20% or one-in-five employed people have experienced such abuse that can also happen during commutes, work-related trips, events, digital communications, social activities and in home-based offices.

After studying 25 countries, ILO found about two-thirds of legal provisions on workplace harassment were in OSH laws, which also outlined preventative strategies by employers and workers more than other regulatory approaches.

In regions such as the Americas, Europe, and Central Asia, laws governing OSH predominantly incorporate provisions on violence and harassment. Conversely, the focus in the Asia Pacific and Arab States as well as Barbados and Bangladesh has been on addressing sexual harassment through specialized legal frameworks. Countries like Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, and Tunisia also have occupational laws preventing abuse.

“Practical tools, training programmes and guidelines tailored for enterprises and workplaces can help put violence and harassment policies into practice,” the report said.

“These tools explain the steps needed to implement interventions to tackle violence and harassment and help carrying out complex tasks such as workplace risk assessments.”

Meanwhile, collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) constitute another avenue for addressing violence and harassment. 

“Clauses on prohibiting and addressing workplace V&H have increasingly been incorporated into CBAs. Some 252 clauses dedicated to the issue of V&H have been included in 95 sector- and company-level CBAs representing 15 different countries,” the report added.

The four industries that have the highest share of CBS including V&H clauses are manufacturing, the public sector, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and transport, logistics and communications.

The research is part of a project, “Practical guidance and tools to prevent and address violence and harassment in the world of work: An OSH perspective” funded by the European Commission and the ILO.

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