News Release

Statement by Secretary Walsh on the International Labor Organization’s recognition of occupational safety, health as a fundamental right

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh issued the following statement after the International Labor Organization today recognized occupational safety and health as a Fundamental Principle and Right at Work:

“The U.S. Department of Labor commends the International Labor Organization for recognizing for the first time the right to a safe and healthy working environment in the framework of the ILO’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work at the 2022 International Labor Conference.

“Every day, millions of workers around the world face dangerous or unhealthy working conditions. Across the world, the ILO estimates that more than 2.3 million women and men die each year because of work-related accidents and diseases.

“Some workers are not aware of their rights because their employers fail to provide that information or they did not present it in a language understood by the workers. Others are afraid to speak up because of their immigration status or for fear of losing their jobs, and still others live in places that lack the necessary institutions to protect their rights or that fail to enforce them.

“The ILO’s 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work established an international consensus on the core body of labor rights in four categories: freedom of association and collective bargaining; the elimination of forced or compulsory labor; the effective abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

“Today’s approval of an amendment to the 1998 declaration now includes: ‘a safe and healthy working environment.’ Though non-binding, the 1998 declaration is the most widely cited ILO instrument. This recognition will have tremendous benefit for the safety and health of workers everywhere.

“The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to work at home and abroad to ensure that all workers have the right to a safe and healthy working environment.”

Learn more about the department’s international work.

Office of the Secretary
June 10, 2022
Release Number
Media Contact: Christine Feroli
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