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Inclusion of Young Workers in the WHO Executive Board Resolution 128/15 Child Injury Prevention
The World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board Resolution128/15 Child Injury Prevention of January 24, 2011 includes wording to remind countries of their obligations to prevent child labor and to address risks at work encountered by youth under the age of 18. This is due to recommendations of the non-governmental organizations in the WHO Network of Collaborating Centers in Occupational Health and to wording insertions of the Executive Board delegates from the United States and Brazil that were endorsed by the Board.
The global population in 2008 included about 1.5 billion children ages 5-17 years, of whom almost 20% were engaged in some form of work (305,669,000). About 115 million of these children were involved in types of work or working conditions likely to affect their physical, mental, psychological or moral well-being, defined in ILO Convention 182 as one of the ‘worst forms of child labor’. This convention, carrying the obligation to remove children from hazardous work as a matter of urgency, has been ratified by 173 countries.
A World Health Organization Resolution on Child Injury Prevention was discussed in May 2010 by the World Health Organization Executive Board, the leadership group of WHO countries responsible for preparing the draft content of Resolutions to be brought to the May 2011 World Health Assembly for discussion and endorsement by the Health Ministers of the 193 WHO Member States. Non-governmental organizations in official relationship to WHO are permitted to address the Executive Board.
Initially, the draft Resolution on Child Injury Prevention did not address child labor or adolescent workers. Therefore, a Joint Statement of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) and the International Occupational Hygiene Association (IOHA) was presented during the WHO Executive Board Meeting held on 22 May 2010 in Geneva, on behalf of the three organizations. The statement described the magnitude of the problem and noted that policies, enforcement of policies, and services geared to working children under 18 years of age are limited. ICOH, IEA, and IOHA offered to assist WHO and ILO to develop guidance, and to share, implement and evaluate practices for recognizing work-related injuries of children and for preventing and reducing injuries especially in the age group 14 up to 18 years where there has been a sharp increase in hazardous work in the last few years. A number of tools are available from the ILO, ICOH, IEA, IOHA, EU-OSHA, the WHO Collaborating Centers, and other partners. These tools are geared towards workplaces, schools, educating parents, and engaging the public health sector in addressing risks to working children.
Discussion continued at the WHO Executive Board meeting on January 24, 2011. In this meeting, the delegate from the United States and the delegate from Brazil recommended critical wording insertions in the Resolution to address the issues of young workers and child labor, and the Executive Board passed the EB 128/15 Child Injury Prevention resolution, including all of the insertions.
The wording in the EB 128/15 Child Injury Prevention Resolution now includes reference to ILO Conventions C182 (Worst Forms of Child Labor) and C138 (Minimum Age Requirement) in the listing of conventions to remind the Member States of their existing commitments. In the paragraph calling for plans of action, the wording now adds a reminder to take actions to prevent child labor and to set requirements for legal adolescent employment. In the paragraph calling for awareness-raising, there is a reminder to include employers and to address workplace hazards.
This resolution will go to the World Health Assembly in May 2011 for passage and it will provide a good foundation for continued activities of WHO, ILO, and partners to assist all countries to reduce hazards to young workers.
Roadmap for achieving the elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour by 2016External
Adopted at The Hague Global Child Labour Conference on 11 May 2010.
Accelerating Action, p.8
Ergonomics Guidelines for Occupational Health Practice in Industrially Developing Countries. ISBN 978-3-935089-16-3 International Ergonomics AssociationExternal and International Commission on Occupational Health.ExternalInternational Occupational Hygiene AssociationExternal