Health for Life

Health for Life

World Health Day is marked annually on April 7. 

Its theme this year has never been so relevant—although, I must admit, I say that every year!  This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focusing on “Our Planet, Our Health.” 

They want to answer three questions… 

  1. Are we able to reimagine a world where clean air, water and food are available to all? 
  2. Where economies are focused on health and well-being? 
  3. Where cities are liveable and people have control over their health and the health of the planet? 

Imagine being able to answer “Yes” to these questions. How transformative the lives of so many people would be, with everything fully accessible, inclusive, positively supporting well-being—and safe! 

Is it a utopian ideal? My daughter seems to think at the moment we are living in some sort of dystopian world because there is so much unbalance and uncertainty. I understand why she would think this. 

In the midst of a pandemic, a polluted planet and increasing diseases like cancer, asthma, heart disease, for World Health Day 2022, the WHO will focus global attention on urgent actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy and foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being. 

The WHO estimates that more than 13 million deaths around the world each year are due to avoidable environmental causes. This includes the climate crisis which is the single biggest health threat facing humanity. The climate crisis is also a health crisis. 

Have you ever considered these two threats in tandem with each other? 

These last two years have taken so much from us, but I believe we have been presented with a golden opportunity to reassess what is important to each of us: our health and our families, which are increasingly at risk. What can we do to protect them?

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, speaking at an International Labour Organization conference in June 2020, said: 

“The world of work cannot and should not look the same after this crisis. It is time for a coordinated global, regional and national effort to create decent work for all as the foundation of a green, inclusive and resilient recovery. 

He continued by adding, “We need mobilisation now for a human-centred, green, sustainable and inclusive recovery that harnesses the potential of new technologies to create decent jobs for all and takes advantage of the creative and positive ways companies and workers have adapted to these times…”

Would you agree with him? 

I do. I perceive his words lean toward describing a world more inclusive of people, the diversity of life, and taking full advantage of the abundance of creativity to design a world that is more accessible and easier to live in – equitable. Who would not want that? 

The WHO is encouraging organisations across the globe to consider Health as a factor in everything they do – and why should it not be included? Does it not make more sense to assess risks and put preventative measures in place? 

When we do this, we address root causes of hazards and minimise the consequences and risks if hazards materialise. We address causes of ill-health at work, reducing absenteeism, increasing attendance and promoting ability and retention. 

Not only is World Health Day marked in April, so too is World Day for Safety and Health at Work, commemorated on April 28th since 2003. The ILO and the UN are both highlighting the importance of this day and will explore the topic of participation and social dialogue in creating a positive safety and health culture at work. 

The recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of safeguarding working environments to protect the health and safety of everybody working or visiting there. 

Protocols have required all organisations to revise their Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) policies and strategies. This will foster positive and inclusive work cultures but will require collaboration across all levels. This is indeed a positive move for the future of safer workplaces. 

Workplaces with a workforce committed to a strong OSH culture value health and safety. The ILO reports that a positive OSH culture is built on inclusion with meaningful involvement of all parties to improve safety and health at work. These cultures enable employees to feel safe when raising concerns about potential risks or hazards. Employees can trust management in these organisations to proactively explore appropriate solutions. This builds trust and respect across organisations, increasing employee engagement, loyalty, and productivity, among many other benefits. 

The pandemic has not ended; we are still living through it and it continues to evolve. Organisations will always face ongoing OSH risks as a result of technical innovation and organisational or social change. But we now have a deeper appreciation for our health, safety at work, connections with our colleagues and we seek assurance that this can be facilitated in the future. 

How can this be achieved? 

It is quite simple: we can build a strong safety and health culture at work where everyone is included, can contribute and is open to hearing from everybody else. 

Of course, there is a legal basis for safety and health at work that must not be overlooked. Timely reminders of everybody’s role in achieving safety and health goals at work is good practice and should be part of all workplace systems. 

Employers are responsible for ensuring the working environment is safe and healthy. 

Employees are responsible for working safely, protecting themselves and not endangering others. They should know their role and participate in the implementation of preventive measures.

In summary, the WHO are encouraging organisations to: 

  • Embrace a life-course approach to future planning. 
  • Factor in the health of the planet and people in all they do. 
  • Address the causes of ill health rather than the consequences. 

The ILO are encouraging those same organisations to continue to move toward building a strong safety and health culture at all levels. 

Did you know that the 28th of April is also International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers organised worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996? Neither did I.

That is a lot of information to have shared, and it leads to the question, What is your organisation doing to support the health and safety of your workforce, whatever life throws at them? 

Get in touch for a free consultation to see how Connect4Work can help you promote health and safety at work.

 

Resources

WHO World Health Day 2022

UN Observes Safety and Health at Work Day 2022

ILO World Safety and Health at Work Day 2022

A short video produced by WHO launching their manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID19

WHO Manifesto for a healthy recovery from COVID19

 An interesting (maybe utopian?) view on what the world might look like in 2040 from WHO.

What would a world without chronic diseases be like in 2040?