“The health and wellbeing of social workers is an essential element in their effectiveness”, said IFSW President Joachim Mumba, highlighting the IFSW campaign for improved working conditions for social workers worldwide. He was adding IFSW support to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2023 [#SafeDay] on 28 April 2023.
“It is not acceptable that social workers have to work in some of the most difficult physical and managerial environments of any profession worldwide”, Joachim continued. “This makes it more difficult for them to help people in many different situations facing some of the most difficult problems imaginable.”
“The International Labour Organisation has declared that a safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental principle and right at work”, said Dr David N Jones, Chair of the IFSW Working Environment Steering Group.
“Independent research by Professor Jermaine Ravalier (Bath Spa University) and Dr Paula McFadden (Ulster University) provides objective evidence of the challenges faced by social workers in their daily working environment. Not only do they frequently face poor physical conditions, but they often cope with long hours and a lack of managerial support. On top of that, their work dealing with complex relationship problems and lack of resources frequently results in physical threats and violence”, David Jones continued.
IFSW is working with Bath Spa University and the University of Ulster to undertake periodic surveys of working conditions for social workers worldwide. IFSW has also formed a new partnership with the Social Work Workforce Research Special Interest Group to provide a global platform to improve worldwide sharing of information and evidence about the working environment.
“The working conditions of social workers are often unsafe and unhealthy”, Joachim Mumba commented. “IFSW calls on employers and governments to give social workers the tools they need and the safe working environment they deserve so that they can deliver the social returns which can make a real difference for local communities and nations,” he concluded.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
In June 2022, the International Labour Conference (ILO) decided to include “a safe and healthy working environment” in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work. This principle is highlighted this World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2023.