The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned that without adequate protection of returning workers during the lockdown ease countries may face the risk of COVID-19 resurgence.
The UN agency in a statement which was signed on Tuesday said that as the pressure mounts on countries to ease their lockdown restrictions, governments should take action to prevent and control COVID-19 in the workplace, with active involvement and dialogue with employers’ and workers.
“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, says the ILO.
“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,” ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder said in the statement.
He added that it is only by implementing occupational safety and health measures that we can protect the lives of workers, their families, and the larger communities.
According to the UN agency, risk control measures should be specifically adapted to the needs of workers at the frontline of the pandemic. These include health workers, nurses, doctors, and emergency workers, as well as those in food retail and cleaning services.
The ILO also highlighted the needs of the most vulnerable workers and businesses, in particular those in the informal economy, migrant and domestic workers.
Measures recommended by ILO to protect workers include – among others – education and training on safe and healthy work practices; free provision of PPE as needed, access to public health services, and livelihood alternatives.