Occupational health and safety and the poorest

Occupational health and safety and the poorest

This report addresses the role of employment in efforts to reduce poverty in the context of increased globalisation and its impacts on labour markets. Worldwide, countries are experiencing a decline of jobs with secure and lasting contracts and work-related social benefits. As a consequence, for many, employment fails to provide the opportunity to escape poverty and even contributes to vulnerability. While the importance of employment for poverty reduction is gaining recognition in development agencies, less attention has been given to occupationally related injury and illness as a major source of worker vulnerability. This study investigates the impact of occupational injury and illness on poverty and uses three case studies to explore possible interventions to reduce these work-related risks in capacity constrained environments. 

The report considers conceptual and measurement issues in establishing the relationship between work-related health risks and poverty and reviews the mainstream regulatory mechanisms for occupational health and safety (OHS). The report identifies these mechanisms’ failure to adapt to the changing nature of work and worker vulnerability as a major limitation, and presents case studies of interventions to improve OHS for informal workers. This leads to a range of lessons and recommendations and a call for improving quantitative and qualitative data about OHS and the informal economy. 

Adapted from authors' summary.

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