Occupational health

Forty-ninth World Health Assembly, May 1996

Resolution WHA49.12: WHO global strategy for occupational health for all

Hbk Res., Vol. III (3rd ed.), 1.12.3(Sixth plenary meeting, 25 May 1996 - Committee A, second report)

The Forty-ninth World Health Assembly,

Having examined the report of the Director-General on the global strategy for occupational health for all;

Recalling resolution WHA33.31, which endorsed the programme of action on workers' health, 1979-1990,2 and aware of the growing health problems related to work and hazards of the work environment, particularly in countries in the process of industrialization and transition as well as those in greatest need;

Stressing that occupational health and healthy work environments are essential for individuals, communities and countries, as well as for the economic health of each enterprise;

Accentuating the important role of other organizations and social partners in promoting and implementing health and safety at work;

Emphasizing that a global strategy on occupational health for all would contribute to the global health and quality of life of individuals as vital for the implementation of the health-for-all strategy;

Noting that occupational health concerns all sectors so that decision-makers in governments, industry and agriculture are responsible for the establishment of healthy working conditions to meet all requirements of health protection and health promotion at the workplace;

Emphasizing the urgent need to improve occupational health and safety at work, and to strengthen occupational health services with a view to controlling work-related health hazards, so as to prevent occupational diseases and other work-related illnesses;

Convinced that the field of occupational health calls for a broad multidisciplinary approach,

1. ENDORSES the global strategy for occupational health for all, proposing the following major objectives for action: strengthening of international and national policies for health at work; promotion of a healthy work environment, healthy work practices and health at work; strengthening of occupational health services; establishment of appropriate support services for occupational health; development of occupational health standards based on scientific risk assessment; development of human resources; establishment of registration and data systems; strengthening of research;

2. URGES Member States to devise national programmes on occupational health for all, based on the global strategy, with special attention to full occupational health services for the working population, including migrant workers, workers in small industries and in the informal sector, and other occupational groups at high risk and with special needs, including child workers;

3. REQUESTS the Director-General:

  • to promote the implementation of the global strategy for occupational health and occupational safety for all within the framework of the Ninth General Programme of Work (1996-2001), including mobilization of extrabudgetary funds;
  • to invite organizations of the United Nations system, particularly the International Labour Organisation, intergovernmental bodies, such as the European Commission, nongovernmental and national organizations, as well as social partners, to strengthen their action in this field and their cooperation and coordination with WHO;
  • to encourage Member States to update education and training curricula for developing human resources for occupational health, including both occupational health and safety professionals (occupational physicians, ergonomists, occupational health nurses, occupational hygienists, and other experts) and professionals responsible for the design and management of the workplace (architects, engineers and managers) and to give them corresponding support;
  • to encourage the network of the WHO collaborating centres in occupational health to facilitate and support the implementation of the global strategy, and to make full use of the network's capacity accordingly;
  • to give special attention to working people by developing appropriate health care in workplaces as a contribution to the attainment of health for all by the year 2000;
  • to report at an appropriate time on progress made in the implementation of this resolution.

Summary of Priorities of the WHO Global Strategy in Occupational Health for All

  • strengthening of international and national policies for health at work
  • promotion of a healthy work environment, healthy work practices, and health at work
  • strengthening of occupational health services
  • establishment of appropriate support services for occupational health
  • development of occupational health standards based on scientific risk assessment
  • development of human resources
  • establishment of registration and data systems and information support
  • strengthening of research.

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