Industrial processes can be inherently hazardous, and when accidents or work-related illnesses occur they can have serious consequences. Consequently, the first priority of any steel site should be the health and safety of workers. That is why Occupational Health and Safety is a crucial component of the ResponsibleSteel International Standard. Patrick Correa, Director for Base Metals and Mechanical Engineering for IndustriALL Global Union, discusses how we must work together to continue to ensure the health and safety of workers in an evolving industry.
The Global Day for Safety and Health at Work is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of workplace safety and health for employees across all industries, not least in the steel sector, where workers face a variety of hazards and risks.
Steel production is a complex and demanding process that involves exposure to high temperatures, heavy machinery, hazardous chemicals, and other physical and environmental hazards. Steelworkers face a range of potential health and safety risks, including burns, cuts, respiratory problems, hearing loss, and more.
To address these risks and promote a safe and healthy workplace for all, robust occupational health and safety (OHS) measures are essential. This can include implementing safety protocols and guidelines, providing training and education on workplace hazards, conducting regular safety inspections, and ensuring workers have access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Unions play a key role in advocating for health and safety. By joining a union, workers can leverage collective bargaining power to negotiate for safer working conditions, better PPE, and other crucial protections.
But despite improved OHS in the sector, increasing automation, changing job requirements, evolving health and safety risks and a lack of investments from companies to ensure adequate OHS policies and resources, pose new challenges.
As more tasks become automated, the nature of steelworkers’ jobs will change and with that, the risks and hazards they face. Unions and employers must work together to identify and address emerging OHS concerns, like potential risks associated with robotic machinery.
As our understanding of workplace hazards and their impact on worker health and well-being continues to evolve, it is critical that OHS measures keep pace. This means that workers, unions, and employers must remain vigilant and proactive in identifying and addressing emerging risks, such as those associated with new chemicals or materials.
The Global Day for Safety and Health in the workplace is an important reminder of the critical importance of occupational health and safety in the steel sector. By promoting robust OHS measures together with the unions and addressing emerging challenges and opportunities, we can ensure a safer and healthier workplace for all steelworkers.
By Patrick Correa, Director for Base Metals and Mechanical Engineering, IndustriALL Global Union
Patrick Correa has worked in international trade unionism for 25 years, including as International Director of the CGT Métallurgie in France. He has been a member of the executive committee of IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriALL Europe and European trade union coordinator for Renault, GE Power, Engie, Nexans and Lisi. Patrick has a Master 2 degree in labour law from the University of Paris II Pantheon-Assas.back to news