Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

A New Frontier for Industrial Relations: Workplace Health and Safety as a Human Right

Document type Book chapter
Author Hilgert, Jeffrey
Editor Compa, Lance A
Editor Gross, James A
Book None
Publisher Labour and Employment Relations Association; Champaign, IL
Date 2009
ISBN 978-0-913447-98-7
Pages 43-71


Working conditions have been an ongoing topic of scholarship and government for more than a century, yet the understanding that workers’ health and safety are human rights has a short history and has until recently not been a significant justification for industrial and labor relations policy. In this chapter I respond to this gap, challenging industrial relations and labor economics to examine the scope and nature of the problem and articulate a framework of workers’ health and safety as human rights concerns. The field of industrial relations has historically characterized workers’ health and safety as less than fundamental human rights. This paper is an exploration of the human rights framework and a response to critics in an effort to establish a new foundation for industrial relations scholarship and in turn build the human rights foundation for labor policy. --Author's introduction