The global outlook on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been focusing on age-related and chronic disease aspects, recognising worse outcomes and a marked disadvantage for lower socio-economic conditions. However, the pandemic represents an unprecedented challenge not only for public health but also for the world of work, with increasing unemployment and under-employment, a higher burden of mental health issues at work, the management of the infection outcomes including the long-COVID and widening inequalities with a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable. Higher risks of infection have been recognized not only for the frontline responders (including healthcare workers, emergency response workers, social services providers and caregivers) but also for many other categories of workers involved in activities with higher exposure to interpersonal contacts. Access to appropriate personal protective equipment, opportunities to work from home and job insecurity are additional factors to be considered in the impact of the pandemic on specific categories of workers and economic sectors.
The global impact of SARS-CoV-2 has clearly underscored the key role of occupational health and safety in building an integrated and multidisciplinary approach that, besides contributing to saving lives and safeguarding livelihoods that were put at risk by the pandemic, would support the definition of policies and strategies for the implementation of specific risk management and the protection of vulnerable workers.
High level experts from various continents and the WHO and ILO leadership, building on the lessons learned from the present global health emergency, will discuss relevant strategies and practices that will provide a new global reference point for occupational health and safety policies addressing preparedness and management of pandemic events, well beyond COVID-19.
The Global Policy Forum, included among the live streaming sessions, will be a highlight of the Congress and every delegate is encouraged to attend and actively engage in the discussion, for what promises to be a very important and topical event.