Singapore invites guests to the XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in 2017
“A culture of prevention on a global scale, with Vision Zero as target, can only be achieved when all countries work together,” said Congress President Dr Walter Eichendorf as his closing statement for the four-day event in Frankfurt. The XX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work 2014 made it clear that each culture can contribute its own values and solutions to the issues involved in occupational safety and health. The world community must learn to accept that there can be no universal solution, he emphasized. Only by tapping the potential of each country can a common culture of prevention be developed that has a chance of thriving on both the regional and local levels.
“At the latest with this XX World Congress, we now have a common basis in Vision Zero,” stated Eichendorf. In 2008 the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Association for Social Security (ISSA) and the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) expressed for the first time with the Declaration of Seoul their common determination to create a worldwide prevention culture. More than 400 institutions worldwide have in the meantime signed this declaration. “We have come a long way, but we’re still not at the end of the road,” said Eichendorf. What hasn’t changed is the fact that prevention must continue to be cultivated as a key social value, from kindergarten to the end of life. This is because anyone who works is bound to make mistakes. So workplaces and procedures must be designed in a fault-tolerant manner, according to Eichendorf. Prevention culture provides a solid basis to build on.
Nancy Leppink, Director of the IAO, and Hans-Horst Konkolewsky, Director-General of the ISSA, expressed their surprise at the passion and enthusiasm with which the many topics addressed at the World Congress were taken up and discussed, particularly by the younger participants. The challenges brought by the future world of work will be great, they noted, but the response to the Congress is an encouraging sign that people are facing up to these challenges. “Yes, it is possible to create a common culture of prevention!” – Konkolewsky called on the around 2,000 participants in the Closing Ceremony to take this message to heart and bring it back home with them so they can continue work on these issues with renewed vigour and commitment.
The next World Congress on Safety and Health at Work will be held in 2017 in Singapore. The Congress will thus be hosted for the first time in its over 60-year history in Southeast Asia. Singapore, too, is on the verge of accomplishing the paradigm shift towards a Vision Zero, said Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary in Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. He announced that at the next Congress the goal would be to try to progress “from searching for mistakes to searching for solutions”, and he invited the assembled community to meet up again in Singapore.
To kick off the Closing Ceremony, Professor Dr Franz Josef Radermacher, Chair of the Research Institute for Applied Knowledge Processing at the University of Ulm, had captivated the audience with a lecture on the relationship between globalization, sustainability and the future, and their significance for safety and health at work, unleashing waves of enthusiasm. He pointed out that although prevention is an ethically challenging and economically meaningful concern, we must ask ourselves what benefit is derived from it by even the poorest of the poor. He urged his listeners to bear in mind that much of what we in the rich, developed countries conceive and implement in the way of solutions ultimately serves only ourselves and not those who need it the most urgently.
Radermacher, in unison with the Club of Rome, called for a kind of global governance geared to avoiding the excesses of the traditional capitalist system by means of ethically based, newly formulated rules. This would serve to bring the world’s economic, social and cultural life into balance. Even the USA has not yet ratified many of the core standards of the ILO, he pointed out, which shows how difficult it is to produce on a global scale the much-needed consensus that is indispensable for the solution to so many problems. And all the while, the problems are not diminishing. Information technology in particular is causing an unprecedented acceleration. Modern humans thus experience within their lifetimes a frequency of transformation that previously would have extended over several generations. Fortunately, there are also a greater number of educated people all over the world today than ever before. This is where Radermacher places all his hopes for a timely solution to the most pressing problems.
Text: Norbert Ulitzka