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Workers’ rights: how a landmark UN decision on safety and health will actually affect employees

Making a safe and healthy work environment a human right is only the first step in ensuring governments protect workers

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The ILO decided a safe and healthy work environment should be a fundamental right at its June 2022 conference. Millenius/Shutterstock

In what has been called the “biggest moment for workers’ rights in a quarter of a century”, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted a safe and healthy work environment as one of its five fundamental principles and rights at work for all at its June 2022 international conference. This is the first extension of workers’ human rights in almost 25 years and it means governments must now commit to respect and promote the right to a safe and healthy working environment.

Almost 3 million people die due to accidents and illnesses every year while trying to make a living. An additional 374 million workers are injured or made ill by their work. Overwork on its own kills more than 745,000 people a year through increased risk of stroke and heart attack. If occupational safety and health (OSH) had been given more attention during the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of lives could have been saved.

The ILO decision could make a huge difference in preventing mine collapses, factory fires in the textile industry or by ensuring that hundreds of workers’ lives are not lost building the stadiums to host the next men’s World Cup football tournament. Making OSH a human right also recognises the workplace psychosocial risks many workers experience – stress, burnout and isolation – which have been made worse by the pandemic.

The ILO, established in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles, became a specialised agency of the United Nations in 1946, tasked with the adoption and supervision of international labour standards and the promotion of decent work. Its 187-strong membership includes 186 of the UN’s 193 members, plus the Cook Islands.

In the 1990s, as many sought a social dimension to the new economic world order following the fall of the Berlin Wall, a clarion call was raised for a global charter of workers’ rights. The demise of the social clause – an effort to link labour standards and trade liberalisation - at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the 1990s placed the ball firmly in the ILO’s court. Its unique tripartite structure of governments, trade unions and employers took up the challenge of devising a response to globalisation and its victims.

Fuelled by its founding mandate that: “Poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity everywhere”, the ILO adopted the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. This commits the ILO’s 187 member states, regardless of their level of economic development, to respect and promote principles and rights in four categories: child labour, forced labour, discrimination and freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Such protections remain vital. While illegal in most countries, forced labour is still widespread in many parts of the world. Similarly, child labour is not yet illegal in all countries and remains a concern for governments, regulators and watchdogs in many countries.

Medical professional with clipboard, stethoscope, mask, outside hopsital.
Many lives could have been saved if occupational safety and health had been given more attention during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cryptographer/Shutterstock

The fifth pillar of human rights

The recognition of OSH as the fifth pillar of human rights will have major implications for businesses, international trade agreements and governments. The 1998 Declaration is the point of reference for many private and multi-stakeholder forms of labour regulation. This includes the UN’s Global Compact (a non-binding instrument with more than 16,000 company signatories), the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (which outlines the corporate responsibility to respect human rights), transnational company agreements and many codes of conduct by multinationals along global supply chains.

Most trade agreements also take the ILO 1998 Declaration as the foundation of their labour rights provisions. The ILO has said the declaration should not unintentionally affect the rights and obligations of one of its members in relation to existing trade and investment agreements between states. But many new trade agreements may include a legally binding labour provision on a safe and healthy working environment.

For governments, therefore, the pressure is on. While the 1998 declaration only asked member states to “respect, promote and realise” the fundamental principles, a huge wave of ratifications followed. For example, the Minimum Age Convention had only been ratified by 58 countries by 1997. Today that number has risen to 175. Other labour standards identified as fundamental such as the Forced Labour Convention have now been ratified by 179 member states and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention has universal ratification by the 187 member nations of the ILO. We are likely to see the same response now OSH is a fundamental principle, especially since even in the EU many countries have not ratified key OSH labour standards.

A vital first step

The recognition of a safe and healthy work environment as a human right is a first step, but not an end in itself. In an era of governments promoting the use of cheap labour to compete for investment, states could implement these labour standards as a form of “social camouflage” to reduce criticism from the international community, while failing to actually enforce their provisions. Similarly, while OSH might become a pillar of the private regulation of labour standards, using this model alone to ensure a minimum level for labour standards has proved to be woefully inadequate in the past.

Concerted action by the international community is therefore needed. The decision taken by the ILO speaks volumes for its continued relevance. This move stands as a strong commitment by workers, employers and governments to recognise that they can do much more to ensure safety and health at work and help prevent the deaths and injuries of millions across the globe.

Huw Thomas has previously worked with the International Labour Organization (ILO). He has received funding from the Economic & Social Research Council.

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Las Vegas Strip Gets a Brand New Technology

It’s not just Caesars and MGM innovating on the Strip. A number of other companies are trying big idea.

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It's not just Caesars and MGM innovating on the Strip. A number of other companies are trying big idea.

Las Vegas has quietly become a hotbed for innovation. Some of that has been driven by the major casino operators -- Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report, MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get MGM Resorts International Report, Resorts World Las Vegas, and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) - Get Wynn Resorts Limited Report -- trying to outdo each other to win over customers.

Some innovations are ostentatious and hard to miss, like the MSG (MSGE) - Get Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. Class A Report Sphere being built at the Venetian. That first-of-its-kind concert venue looks as if it dropped to Earth from a technologically advanced civilization, and it has raised the bar for performance venues.

Many innovations, however, aren't as obvious. Caesars, for example, uses an artificial intelligence text-based concierge that's surprisingly effective. "Ivy," as it goes by, can answer questions, help with mundane tasks like getting clean towels delivered, or advance your issue to a human where needed.

Innovations big and small are happening up, down, and under the Las Vegas Strip. Elon Musk's Boring Co. has been building a network of tunnels under the city that will eventually use driverless Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report electric vehicles to ferry people all over the city. 

That's a revolutionary idea -- but now a rival has emerged.  

Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet

Musk Goes Low, Lyft Goes High?

Musk's Boring Co. has a bold plan for more than 50 stations connecting the Las Vegas Strip to the airport, the Convention Center, Allegiant Stadium, and Fremont Street using driverless Teslas. 

Currently, only a small portion of that network has been built -- a section connecting the two halves of the Las Vegas Convention Center (and one connecting Resorts World Las Vegas to that same location.

For Musk and Boring Co., it's all about taking traffic off the city's busy streets and bringing it underground.

"During typical peak hours, driving from the Las Vegas Convention Center to Mandalay Bay, for example, can take up to 30 minutes. The same trip on Vegas Loop will take approximately 3 minutes," the company says on its website.

If Musk's plan is fully built, it'll effectively give Las Vegas a modern subway, helping alleviate road congestion. It will not, however, stop tourists from using ride-share and taxi cabs.

Now, ride-share company Lyft  (LYFT) - Get Lyft Inc. Report has brought a solution to Sin City that may ultimately help it solve another problem: a shortage of taxi and ride-share drivers. 

Lyft Brings Driverless Cars (Sort of) to Las Vegas

Labor in Las Vegas has been in short supply since the pandemic hit. Some people left the city and others found work outside the service-industry jobs that fuel the Las Vegas economy. At times, that has made the wait for a cab, or a ride-share from Uber (UBER) - Get Uber Technologies Inc. Report and Lyft, longer than usual.

Lyft plans to fix that by partnering with Motional to bring Motional's "Ioniq-5-based robotaxi, an autonomous vehicle designed for fully driverless ride-hail operation, to the Lyft network in Las Vegas," the ride-share company shared in a news release.

The Ioniq 5 is Hyundai's  (HYMTF)  prominent EV. Motional is the Boston joint venture between Hyundai and automotive-technology specialist Aptiv.  (APTV) - Get Aptiv PLC Report

"Launching Motional’s all-electric Ioniq 5 on Lyft’s network in Las Vegas represents tremendous progress in our vision to make an electric, autonomous, and shared future a reality for people everywhere," said  Lyft CEO Logan Green.

It's Self-Driving Lyfts, But...

There is, however, a pretty big catch.

"Each vehicle arrives with not one but two backup drivers standing by to take control of the car should anything go wrong" Casino.org's Corey Levitan reported.

Lyft has promised a truly driverless system at some point in 2023, but current laws and the state of driverless technology make the backups necessary.

Motional and Lyft have quietly been testing driverless vehicles in Las Vegas since 2018. In the news release, Lyft explained how the system works.

"This means riders are able to easily control their ride without assistance from a driver. The enhanced experience includes unlocking the doors through the Lyft app and starting the ride or contacting customer support from the new in-car Lyft AV app, an intuitive in-ride display tailored to autonomous ride-sharing," the company said.

Lyft and Boring Co. are not working together. But if Musk's plan takes vehicles off Las Vegas's streets, the new program makes the experience better for any that remain. 

Ride sharing and taxis will continue to cost significantly more than using Boring Co's subway-like system, so it's easy to see how the two options will work well together.   .

 

  

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Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Strip Plan Has Some Competition

It’s not just Caesars and MGM innovating on the Strip. Elon Musk has been tunneling under Las Vegas to solve a big problem, and now he has a rival.

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It's not just Caesars and MGM innovating on the Strip. Elon Musk has been tunneling under Las Vegas to solve a big problem, and now he has a rival.

Las Vegas has quietly become a hotbed for innovation. Some of that has been driven by the major casino operators -- Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report, MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get MGM Resorts International Report, Resorts World Las Vegas, and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) - Get Wynn Resorts Limited Report -- trying to outdo each other to win over customers.

Some innovations are ostentatious and hard to miss, like the MSG (MSGE) - Get Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. Class A Report Sphere being built at the Venetian. That first-of-its-kind concert venue looks as if it dropped to Earth from a technologically advanced civilization, and it has raised the bar for performance venues.

Many innovations, however, aren't as obvious. Caesars, for example, uses an artificial intelligence text-based concierge that's surprisingly effective. "Ivy," as it goes by, can answer questions, help with mundane tasks like getting clean towels delivered, or advance your issue to a human where needed.

Innovations big and small are happening up, down, and under the Las Vegas Strip. Elon Musk's Boring Co. has been building a network of tunnels under the city that will eventually use driverless Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report electric vehicles to ferry people all over the city. 

That's a revolutionary idea -- but now a rival has emerged.  

Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet

Musk Goes Low, Lyft Goes High?

Musk's Boring Co. has a bold plan for more than 50 stations connecting the Las Vegas Strip to the airport, the Convention Center, Allegiant Stadium, and Fremont Street using driverless Teslas. 

Currently, only a small portion of that network has been built -- a section connecting the two halves of the Las Vegas Convention Center (and one connecting Resorts World Las Vegas to that same location.

For Musk and Boring Co., it's all about taking traffic off the city's busy streets and bringing it underground.

"During typical peak hours, driving from the Las Vegas Convention Center to Mandalay Bay, for example, can take up to 30 minutes. The same trip on Vegas Loop will take approximately 3 minutes," the company says on its website.

If Musk's plan is fully built, it'll effectively give Las Vegas a modern subway, helping alleviate road congestion. It will not, however, stop tourists from using ride-share and taxi cabs.

Now, ride-share company Lyft  (LYFT) - Get Lyft Inc. Report has brought a solution to Sin City that may ultimately help it solve another problem: a shortage of taxi and ride-share drivers. 

Lyft Brings Driverless Cars (Sort of) to Las Vegas

Labor in Las Vegas has been in short supply since the pandemic hit. Some people left the city and others found work outside the service-industry jobs that fuel the Las Vegas economy. At times, that has made the wait for a cab, or a ride-share from Uber (UBER) - Get Uber Technologies Inc. Report and Lyft, longer than usual.

Lyft plans to fix that by partnering with Motional to bring Motional's "Ioniq-5-based robotaxi, an autonomous vehicle designed for fully driverless ride-hail operation, to the Lyft network in Las Vegas," the ride-share company shared in a news release.

The Ioniq 5 is Hyundai's  (HYMTF)  prominent EV. Motional is the Boston joint venture between Hyundai and automotive-technology specialist Aptiv.  (APTV) - Get Aptiv PLC Report

"Launching Motional’s all-electric Ioniq 5 on Lyft’s network in Las Vegas represents tremendous progress in our vision to make an electric, autonomous, and shared future a reality for people everywhere," said  Lyft CEO Logan Green.

An Important Caveat

There is, however, a pretty big catch.

"Each vehicle arrives with not one but two backup drivers standing by to take control of the car should anything go wrong" Casino.org's Corey Levitan reported.

Lyft has promised a truly driverless system at some point in 2023, but current laws and the state of driverless technology make the backups necessary.

Motional and Lyft have quietly been testing driverless vehicles in Las Vegas since 2018. In the news release, Lyft explained how the system works.

"This means riders are able to easily control their ride without assistance from a driver. The enhanced experience includes unlocking the doors through the Lyft app and starting the ride or contacting customer support from the new in-car Lyft AV app, an intuitive in-ride display tailored to autonomous ride-sharing," the company said.

Lyft and Boring Co. are not working together. But if Musk's plan takes vehicles off Las Vegas's streets, the new program makes the experience better for any that remain. 

Ride sharing and taxis will continue to cost significantly more than using Boring Co's subway-like system, so it's easy to see how the two options will work well together.   .

 

  

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Exosomes Could Improve Inhaled Therapeutics

Instead of disguising vaccines in synthetic lipid nanoparticles, researchers used exosomes as their drug delivery vehicles to the lung. The exosomes are…

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For respiratory diseases, from asthma to COVID-19, inhaled treatments can quickly deliver a drug to the desired target, the lungs. Global health depends on such treatments. As Kristen Popowski, a PhD candidate in comparative biomedical sciences at the North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, and her colleagues wrote: “Respiratory diseases are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) remaining prevalent in the ongoing pandemic.”

Kristen Popowski [North Carolina State University]
Although lipid nanoparticles offer one delivery vehicle for such treatments, nature creates an obstacle. “The lung has natural defense mechanisms against inhaled particulates, and traditional lipid-nanoparticle vaccines present challenges in cytotoxicity and respiratory clearance,” says Popowski. “A nanoparticle formulation that can withstand these defense mechanisms remains a critical challenge.” So, Popowski and her colleagues explored an alternative approach.

“Instead of disguising vaccines in synthetic lipid nanoparticles, we utilize cell-secreted nanoparticles called exosomes as our drug delivery vehicles to the lung,” Popowski explains. “Our exosomes are secreted from native lung cells and are recognizable by the lung.”

Consequently, she says, “We can minimize pulmonary toxicity and clearance to better deliver and retain vaccines.” In addition, the exosome-based treatments developed by Popowski and her colleagues can be formulated as a dry powder that requires no refrigeration and can have a shelf life of 28 days.

Despite the incentives to take an exosome-based approach to inhaled treatments for respiratory diseases, turning that into a part of bioprocessing requires more research.

“Although commercial manufacturing of exosomes has recently shown extensive improvement, optimization of mRNA loading into exosomes remains a challenge,” Popowski says. “Endogenous mRNA expression through exosome engineering would likely be necessary for large-scale production.”

The post Exosomes Could Improve Inhaled Therapeutics appeared first on GEN - Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

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