The ISSA Guidelines on Prevention of Occupational Risks addresses occupational risks that are insured by social security institutions. It provides guidance on how social security institutions can develop and promote prevention activities that cover occupational accidents and occupational diseases.
Prevention – along with compensation and rehabilitation – represents an intrinsic part of social security, aiming to protect the population groups covered from safety and health risks at work. While social accident insurance systems have been established in most countries worldwide, according to information collected by the ISSA, many of these institutions have not yet developed prevention capacities and programmes.
The importance to society of preventing occupational risks is obvious. Where preventive measures have been taken, significant reductions in occupational accidents and diseases have been achieved, thus saving lives, avoiding human suffering and safeguarding the health and well-being of workers. Safe and healthy working conditions are increasingly understood as strategic assets for enterprises and for society as they go hand in hand with productivity and competitiveness.
The ISSA’s international study on the costs and benefits of investments in occupational safety and health (OSH), demonstrating a global return on prevention (ROP) of 1:2.2 or 120 per cent, has clearly revealed the enormous potential that prevention holds for business and society.
For social security institutions, involvement in prevention activities means proactively to address the occupational risks, before providing benefits for treatment, rehabilitation, early retirement or invalidity, i.e. following the principle that “prevention is better than rehabilitation” and “rehabilitation is better than compensation”.
Based on this strategic approach, the ISSA’s Guidelines offer social security institutions in the field a comprehensive set of prevention concepts and tools to build their own prevention capacities, infrastructures, programmes and activities, taking into account their specific national and institutional circumstances.
The target audience for these Guidelines is social security funds dealing with occupational risks, workers’ compensation boards and social insurances for occupational accidents and diseases, all of which are referred to as “social security institutions”.