SINGAPORE, 3 September 2017 – The ASEAN Labour Ministers signed today the Statement on Improving Occupational Safety and Health for Sustainable Economic Growth during their Special Session at the XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work 2017. The statement is a testament of the commitment of ASEAN Member States to promote decent work, particularly through enhancement of occupational safety and health (OSH) standards, performance and capabilities. Safety and health at work are recognized as a key to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

“The signing of the statement clearly indicates that all ASEAN Labour Ministers commit to seriously improve OSH at the workplace,” said Dr. Khampheng Saysompheng, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare of Lao PDR and Chair of the ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting. “Occupational safety and health is a human right of workers. Improving safety and health at work supports productivity and living condition of workers, and contribute to poverty eradication and national socio-economic development,” he added.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh underlined that “this year we commemorate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. In this spirit, the signing of the statement today is timely. The statement is a reflection of ASEAN Member States’ understanding and commitment to decent work which is pivotal in sustaining long-term economic growth.” He added that “the statement concretely shows the collective resolve of ASEAN Member States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the ASEAN Vision 2025. We need to continue expanding the scope and terrain of occupational safety and health efforts, as well as exploring technologies and innovations to identify and prevent occupational risks.”

The statement commits ASEAN Member States to, among others, regularly review OSH legislation for adequate coverage, build OSH inspection capacities, strengthen risk management capabilities, and enhance the collection of OSH data. It also recognises the important roles of private sector, workers’ organisations, and other key partners.

Mr. Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower of Singapore, shared how the country would contribute to boosting OSH standards in ASEAN. He said “Singapore is committed to work with ASEAN Member States to enhance OSH capabilities.  Specific areas would be training for OSH inspectors, building companies’ expertise in risk management through BizSafe, and developing accreditation frameworks for OSH training providers.”

The Special Session also observed the hand-over of the ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network (ASEAN-OSHNET) Secretariat from Singapore to Myanmar for 2017-2019. Together with the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN-OSHNET Secretariat supports the implementation of the ASEAN-OSHNET Plan of Action (2016-2020) in the areas of OSH standards and capacities, OSH labour inspection, and HIV prevention and control in the workplace.

The Special Session was attended by the Director-General of International Labour Organization and President of International Social Security Association.

After the Special Session, the ASEAN Labour Ministers met Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore.

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ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Statement on Improving Occupational Safety and Health for Sustainable Economic Growth can be downloaded here.