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The International Labour Organization (ILO) is shining a light on workplace health and safety around the world and encouraging companies to participate in World Day for Safety and Health at Work. 

The event, which will take place on April 28, will focus on prevention this year. In Australia, organisations like SafeWork SA are encouraging business leaders to raise awareness of the need for proactive steps aimed at reducing work-related injuries and illnesses. 

In addition to observing a day that focusses on preventing unsafe or unhealthy working environments, enterprises can commemorate International Workers Memorial Day, which invites people to remember those who have died due to incidents at work. 

The ILO* noted that approximately four workers die from a work-related illness or accident every minute, with 153 individuals experiencing an injury tied to their professional activities every 15 seconds. Around the world, about 2.3 million deaths occur from these types of incidents, the ILO added. 

Importantly, work health and safety requires vigilance and attention from all people involved. On a primary level, business leaders need to develop strong occupational health and safety training programs as well as monitor ongoing activities. However, that's just the beginning. The first All-Russian OSH Week, which was observed April 14-17, drove home the message that workplace health and safety is a matter of preventative culture and cooperation – a task that is by no means a simple one. 

"Despite continuous efforts by the International Labour Organization and by many of our constituent governments, workers' organisations and employers, the challenge of creating safe and healthy workplaces for all remains enormous," ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy Sandra Polaski said in her opening address for the week. 

Australia's model WHS Act enforces the need for all-hands-on-deck when it comes to upholding health and safety requirements. For instance, new model laws today clearly articulate the need to consult, cooperate and coordinate work health and safety activities with Independent Contractors – a group that was previously not included in an enterprise's program. Today, Independent Contractors and the organisations that hire them retain responsibility for complying with WHS stipulations – perhaps your World Day for Safety and Health includes reviewing what you do with this category of workers? 

*International Labour Organization, "Safety and health at work".

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