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IOSH and EBRD team up to seek global emergency response plan

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A roundtable has been jointly organised by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with the aim of agreeing a multi-stakeholder rapid response to global emergencies.

The roundtable will focus on the health and safety challenges caused by the war in Ukraine, with senior figures from the Ukraine Ministries of Economy and Health providing updates on the situation. Meanwhile representatives of the European Society of Occupational Safety and Health and the United Nations Development Programme will also give presentations.

This will be followed by a discussion about a model response to emergencies to ensure occupational safety and health is a priority at each stage, chaired by IOSH Chief Executive Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher and EBRD Head of Environment and Sustainability Debbie Cousins.

‘Save lives, reduce suffering, and minimise economic losses’

Harwood-Whitcher said: “The war in Ukraine has caused huge human displacement, with millions having to flee their homes. This, along with damage to civilian and energy infrastructure, residential buildings, public transport, water supply and power networks, has created significant health and safety challenges.

“Our event focusses on how building capacity on the ground in occupational safety and health (OSH) can not only enable workers in Ukraine to continue to function in the most perilous of situations but also support longer-term economic revival and social renewal.

“And we know there are many more crises around the world. Take the earthquake in Turkey and Syria for example. We believe the establishment of a global, multilateral collaboration mechanism for OSH-centred emergency preparedness and response can help to save lives, reduce suffering, and minimise economic losses in crisis situations.”

‘Preventing injury and ill-health at work’

IOSH and the EBRD signed a memorandum of understanding in 2015, with IOSH agreeing to contribute its expertise and the reach of its global network to EBRD projects and initiatives to secure safer and healthier working conditions in a number of national contexts.

Debbie Cousins, Head of Environment and Sustainability Department Operations at ERBD, added: “The negative economic impacts of the war in Ukraine have been felt across the world. In the country itself, businesses face the challenge not only of surviving, but also of thinking about how to develop and scale up activities in the future. Many workers will be forced to work in jobs in which they have limited training and experience, exposing them to risks, and appropriate OSH education will be key in preventing injury and ill-health at work.

“The aim of the roundtable is to engage the participants to share ideas towards a formulation of a more coordinated and efficient rapid OSH response mechanism for capacity building, in case of future emergencies, with a particular focus on Ukraine.”

The roundtable is being held on Thursday 23 February at EBRD’s headquarters in London.

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