Call for submissions:
The rights of workers and toxic chemical exposure

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Hazardous Substances and Wastes report to the UN Human Rights Council in in September 2018 will focus on the rights of workers and toxic chemical exposure. For this reason, the Special Rapporteur is calling for submissions from civil society organizations, academic organizations, and business sector representatives

According to the ILO, nearly two million workers per year – or three workers per minute – die prematurely from non-communicable diseases such as cancer and respiratory illnesses brought on by toxic exposures in the workplace.  Global supply chains are often implicated for both failing to protect workers from toxic exposures and refusing to provide an effective remedy for individuals harmed. Poverty, gender, age, ethnicity and migration are among the many themes that frequently recur in cases of workers and toxic harms.

As detailed in the information note enclosed, (English, Spanish) the UN Special Rapporteur intention in this study will be to map the main challenges faced in the protection of workers from hazardous substances in various contexts and the main international and national legal and institutional instruments relevant to promote their protection. As a result the study will provide recommendations on the integration of human rights norms into international and national efforts to ensure occupational health and safety.

The current public call for submissions is addressed to all in civil society, including private companies, business associations, workers associations, academic institutions and NGOs. Information is asked regarding the following topics:

  1. Please provide information on the impact and effectiveness of existing national and international norms and institutions promoting and protecting occupational health and safety - including norms and institutions covering particular branches of economic activity and protecting against specific risks such as the exposure to radiation, chemicals, air pollution, and asbestos.
  2. Please provide information on the specific challenges faced by groups particularly vulnerable to the exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace such as: women, children, persons living in poverty, migrants, minorities and military workers. 
  3. Please provide information on the impact and effectiveness of existing norms and mechanisms ensuring the rights of workers to access information on issues relating to their occupational health and safety
  4. Please provide information on the impact and effectiveness of existing norms and mechanisms for the protection to whistle-blowers sharing information on occupational health and safety. 
  5. Please provide information on the impact and effectiveness existing national laws ensuring workers their right to access to justice and remedy whenever they are exposed to hazardous substances in their work place.
  6. Please provide information on existing proposals prepared by civil society or business sector representatives reforming the existing norms and institutions tasked with the protection to workers from hazardous substances.

States are also being formally consulted for the preparation of this report. A questionnaire was sent to all States (download the questionnaire in English, Spanish and French) requesting for their main legal and institutional instruments providing for the occupational health and safety.

The Special Rapporteur respectfully requests that any available information be provided, by email to srtoxicwaste@ohchr.org using the email title “Submission to study on workers protection from hazardous substances.

While early submissions are encouraged, please submit comments no later than 31 March 2018. The Special Rapporteur will be evaluating submissions as they arrive and will accept them immediately. 

Submissions will be posted on the OHCHR website at the time of the report’s publication, except for non-State submissions containing a clear request not to be made public.


In this section
Issues in Focus
See also

To access the official independent website of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances, Mr. Baskut Tuncak, please visit: http://www.srtoxics.org

Follow the Special Rapporteur: @SRtoxics

In Memoriam