In 2018, the ILO and WHO jointly published the Occupational safety and health in public health emergencies: A manual for protecting health workers and responders to assist organizations and workplaces to better prepare and respond to the outbreak of infectious diseases and other public health emergencies. The Chinese version of this publication is now available at the critical time of the COVID-19 epidemics.
During the last two decades, the world has experienced a number of outbreaks of infectious diseases, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the EBOLA, the H1N1 influenza and the current COVID-19. The ILO has been providing assistance in all matters relating to the world of work to protect the well-being of workers and their family members. Medical workers in particular are at the forefront of safeguarding public health while they face enhanced risks of injuries, infections and fatalities.
The ILO pays tribute to all medical workers involved in public health emergencies throughout the world. In China, health workers have demonstrated outstanding courage and dedication since the outbreak of COVID-19. “We believe the Chinese version of the occupational safety and health in public health emergencies provides useful guidance to respond to the current crisis”, says Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director of ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia. The health and safety of medical workers is not only a workers’ right, it is also a condition for them to treat patients and save lives.
The manual is intended for experts and officials operating in emergency response and their supervisors. It provides both an overview of the main occupational health and safety risks faced by emergency responders and technical guidance on good practices and procedures in establishing systems that can: 1) reduce occupational exposures, injury, illness and death among response workers; 2) decrease stress and reduce fears; and 3) promote the health and well-being of health-care and other response workers.
Occupational safety and health is a core mandate of the ILO. The ILO has cooperated with its Chinese partners over the years in the development of health and safety programmes in hospitals and it stands ready to further support China in its efforts to protect the safety and health of medical workers in their daily working life and in public health emergencies.