ILO warns against exposing workers to coronavirus in easing lockdown

The International Labour Organization (ILO) of the United Nations (UN) on Tuesday cautioned against inadequate protection of workers against coronavirus infection as governments are preparing to commence easing lockdown and returning to work towards re-opening the economy of respective countries.

The ILO in a statement on Tuesday admonished that employers, both in public and private sectors, in responding to pressures of resumption of work, must ensure minimal risk in workplaces, and protection of workers from coronavirus infection.  The Organization warned that without effective control, countries face the risk of coronavirus infection resurgence.

The ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, had declared in the statement: “All employers need to carry out risk assessments and ensure their workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria beforehand, to minimize the risk to workers exposure to COVID-19.

“Without such controls, countries face the very real risk of a resurgence of the virus. Putting in place the necessary measures will minimize the risk of a second wave of contagion contracted at the workplace.

“The safety and health of our entire workforce is paramount today. In the face of an infectious disease outbreak, how we protect our workers now clearly dictates how safe our communities are, and how resilient our businesses will be, as this pandemic evolves.”

The DG was of the view that only implementation of occupational safety and health measures that can protect the lives of workers, their families, and the larger communities.

The ILO advocated measures for protection of workers. The measures include education and training on safe and healthy work practices; free provision of PPE as needed, access to public health services, and livelihood alternatives.

The Organization insisted  that risk control measures should be made specifically adaptable to the needs of workers at the frontline of the pandemic; who include health workers, nurses, doctors, and emergency workers, as well as those in food retail and cleaning services.