R97 Recommendation concerning the Protection of the Health of workers in Places of Employment
Geneva, 25 giugno 1953
The General Conference of the International Labour Organisation,
Having been convened at Geneva by the Governing Body of the International Labour Office, and having met in its Thirty-sixth Session on 4 June 1953, and
Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to the protection of the health of workers in places of employment, which is the fifth item on the agenda of the session, and
Having determined that these proposals shall take the form of a Recommendation,
adopts this twenty-fifth day of June of the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-three, the following Recommendation, which may be cited as the Protection of Workers' Health Recommendation, 1953:
I. Technical Measures for the Control of Risks to the Health of Workers
1. National laws or regulations should provide for methods of preventing, reducing or eliminating risks to health in places of employment, including methods which may be applied, as necessary and appropriate, in connection with special risks of injury to health.
2. All appropriate measures should be taken by the employer to ensure that the general conditions prevailing in places of employment are such as to provide adequate protection of the health of the workers concerned, and in particular that:
(a) dirt and refuse do not accumulate so as to cause risk of injury to health;
(b) the floor space and height of workrooms are sufficient to prevent overcrowding of workers, or congestion owing to machinery, materials or products;
(c) adequate and suitable lighting, natural or artificial, or both, is provided;
(d) suitable atmospheric conditions are maintained so as to avoid insufficient air supply and movement, vitiated air, harmful draughts, sudden variations in temperature, and, so far as is practicable, excessive humidity, excessive heat or cold, and objectionable odours;
(e) sufficient and suitable sanitary conveniences and washing facilities, and adequate supplies of wholesome drinking water, are provided in suitable places and properly maintained;
(f) in cases where it is necessary for workers to change their clothing when commencing or ceasing work, changing rooms or other suitable facilities for the changing and storage of clothing are provided and properly maintained;
(g) in cases where the workers are prohibited from consuming food or drink at their workplaces, there is on the premises suitable accommodation for taking meals, unless appropriate arrangements exist for the workers to take their meals elsewhere;
(h) measures are taken to eliminate or reduce as far as possible noise and vibrations which constitute a danger to the health of workers;
(i) provision is made for the storage under safe conditions of dangerous substances.
(1) With a view to preventing, reducing or eliminating risks to health in places of employment, all appropriate and practicable measures should be taken:
(a) to substitute harmless or less harmful substances, processes or techniques for harmful substances, processes or techniques;
(b) to prevent the liberation of harmful substances and to shield workers from harmful radiations;
(c) to carry out hazardous processes in separate rooms or buildings occupied by a minimum number of workers;
(d) to carry out hazardous processes in enclosed apparatus, so as to prevent personal contact with harmful substances and the escape into the air of the workroom of dusts, fumes, gases, fibres, mists or vapours, in quantities liable to injure health;
(e) to remove, at or near their point of origin, by mechanical exhaust, ventilation systems or other suitable means, harmful dusts, fumes, gases, fibres, mists or vapours, where exposure to them cannot be prevented in one or more of the ways referred to in clauses (a) to (d) of this subparagraph;
(f) to provide the workers with such protective clothing and equipment and other means of personal protection as may be necessary to shield them from the effects of harmful agents, where other measures to protect the health of workers against these agents are impracticable or are not sufficient to ensure adequate protection, and to instruct the workers in the use thereof.
(2) Where the use of protective clothing and equipment referred to in clause (f) above is necessary because of the special risks attaching to the occupation, such clothing and equipment should be supplied, cleaned and maintained by the employer; where such protective clothing or equipment may be contaminated by poisonous or dangerous substances it should, at all times when not required for use at work or for cleaning or maintenance by the employer, be kept in entirely separate accommodation, where it will not be liable to contaminate the ordinary clothing of the worker.
(3) National authorities should promote, and where appropriate undertake, study of the measures mentioned in subparagraph (1) of this Paragraph, and encourage the application of the results of such study. Such studies should also be undertaken by employers on a voluntary basis.
(1) The workers should be informed:
(a) of the necessity of the measures of protection mentioned in Paragraphs 2 and 3 above;
(b) of their obligation to co-operate in and not to disturb the proper functioning of such measures; and
(c) of their obligation to make proper use of the appliances and equipment provided for their protection.
(2) Consultation with workers on measures to be taken should be recognised as an important means of ensuring their co-operation.
(1) The atmosphere of workrooms in which dangerous or obnoxious substances are manufactured, handled or used should be tested periodically at sufficiently frequent intervals to ensure that toxic or irritating dusts, fumes, gases, fibres, mists or vapours are not present in quantities liable to injure health. The competent authorities should publish from time to time, for the guidance of all concerned, the available information regarding maximum allowable concentrations of harmful substances.
(2) The authority concerned with the protection of the health of workers in places of employment should be empowered to specify the circumstances in which it is necessary to test the atmosphere of such workrooms and the manner in which the tests are to be carried out. Such tests should be conducted or supervised by qualified personnel and, where appropriate, by qualified medical personnel who possess experience in occupational health.
6. The competent authority should draw the attention of employers and workers concerned, by all appropriate measures, for example by warning notices in places of employment, to the special risks to which the workers are exposed and to the precautions to be taken to obviate these risks.
7. The competent authority should provide for consultation at the national level between the labour inspectorate or other authority concerned with the protection of the health of workers in places of employment and the employers' and workers' organisations concerned, with a view to giving effect to the provisions of Paragraphs 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.
II. Medical Examinations
(1) National laws or regulations should contain special provisions concerning medical examinations in respect of workers employed in occupations involving special risks to their health.
(2) The employment of workers in occupations involving special risks to their health should be conditional upon:
(a) a medical examination, carried out shortly before or shortly after the worker enters employment; or
(b) a periodical medical examination; or
(c) both an initial medical examination and a periodical medical examination as in clauses (a) and (b) above.
(3) National laws or regulations should determine, or empower an appropriate authority to determine, from time to time, after consultation with employers' and workers' organisations concerned:
(a) for which risks and in which circumstances medical examinations should be carried out;
(b) for which risks there should be an initial medical examination or a periodical medical examination, or both;
(c) with due regard to the nature and degree of the risk and of the particular circumstances, the maximum intervals at which periodical medical examinations should be carried out.
9. Medical examinations for the purposes of the foregoing Paragraph should be carried out with a view to:
(a) detecting as early as possible signs of a particular occupational disease, or of special susceptibility to that disease;
(b) ascertaining whether, so far as risk of a particular occupational disease is concerned, there are medical objections to the employment or continued employment of the worker in a particular occupation.
(1) Where there are no medical objections to the employment of a worker in a particular occupation, so far as risk of a particular occupational disease is concerned, a certificate to this effect should be issued in a manner prescribed by the competent authority.
(2) Such certificate should be kept on file by the employer and made available to officials of the labour inspectorate or other authority concerned with the protection of the health of workers in places of employment.
(3) Such certificate should be made available to the worker concerned.
11. The medical examinations should be carried out by a qualified physician who should possess, so far as possible, knowledge of occupational health.
12. Measures to ensure the observance of medical secrecy should be adopted in connection with all medical examinations and the registration and filing of related documents.
(1) Medical examinations made in accordance with this Recommendation should not involve the worker concerned in any expense.
(2) No deduction should be made from wages in respect of time lost for attendance at such examinations in cases in which the matter is dealt with by national laws or regulations; in cases in which the matter is dealt with by collective agreements, the position should be as determined by the relevant agreement.
III. Notification of Occupational Diseases
(1) National laws or regulations should require the notification of cases and suspected cases of occupational disease.
(2) Such notifications should be required with a view to:
(a) initiating measures of prevention and protection and ensuring their effective application;
(b) investigating the working conditions and other circumstances which have caused or are suspected to have caused occupational diseases;
(c) compiling statistics of occupational diseases; and
(d) allowing the initiation or development of measures designed to ensure that victims of occupational diseases receive the compensation provided for such diseases.
(3) The notification should be made to the labour inspectorate or other authority concerned with the protection of the health of workers in places of employment.
15. National laws or regulations should:
(a) specify the persons responsible for notifying cases and suspected cases of occupational disease; and
(b) prescribe the manner in which cases of occupational disease should be notified and the particulars to be notified and, in particular, specify:
(i) in which cases immediate notification is required and in which cases notification at specified intervals is sufficient;
(ii) in respect of cases in which immediate notification is required, the time limit after the detection of a case or suspected case of occupational disease within which notification is required;
(iii) in respect of cases in which notification at specified intervals is sufficient, the intervals at which notification is required.
16. The notification should provide the authority concerned with the protection of the health of workers in places of employment with such information as may be relevant and necessary for the effective performance of its duties, including, in particular, the following details:
(a) age and sex of the person concerned;
(b) the occupation and the trade or industry in which the person is or was last employed;
(c) the name and address of the place or last place of employment of the person concerned;
(d) the nature of the disease or poisoning;
(e) the harmful agent and process to which the disease or poisoning is attributed;
(f) the name and address of the undertaking in which the worker presumes that he was exposed to the risk to which the disease or poisoning is attributed; and
(g) so far as is known or can readily be ascertained by the person making the notification, the date of the beginning and, where appropriate, the cessation of exposure to the risk in each of the occupations, trades or industries in which the worker concerned is or has been exposed to the risk.
17. The competent authority should, after consultation with the workers' and employers' organisations concerned, draw up a list of notifiable occupational diseases or classes of cases, together with a symptomatology, and make from time to time such additions or amendments to the list or symptomatology as circumstances may require or as may be found to be desirable.
IV. First Aid
(1) Facilities for first aid and emergency treatment in case of accident, occupational disease, poisoning or indisposition should be provided in places of employment.
(2) National laws or regulations should determine the manner in which the above subparagraph shall be applied.
V. General Provision
19. Where the term national is used in this Recommendation in reference to laws, regulations, or authorities, it shall be understood, in the case of a federal State, to refer, as appropriate, to the federal, state, provincial, cantonal or other competent governmental unit.