‘Dehumanized work’: Pope speaks out on workplace accidents

Cites 'exasperated race for profit' following death of five workers in Italy

‘Dehumanized work’: Pope speaks out on workplace accidents

Pope Francis reminded the public on Monday to never get used to workplace accidents as he underscored the importance of safety at work.

"We cannot get used to accidents at work, nor resign ourselves to indifference towards them," Pope Francis said in an address to the Italian National Association of Mutilated and Invalid Workers.

"We cannot accept the waste of human life. Deaths and injuries are a tragic social impoverishment that affects everyone, not just the companies or families involved."

He made the remarks after five employees in Italy were killed while replacing a stretch of track, triggering a half-day national strike among railway maintenance staff early this month, Reuters reported.

"I still have in mind those five brothers killed by a train while they were working," Pope Francis said on the incident.

'Dehumanized' work behind work accidents

The Pope blamed these accidents on cases when man "becomes a machine for production."

"This happens when work is dehumanized and, instead of being the tool through which human beings realize themselves by making themselves available to the community, it becomes an exasperated race for profit. And this is bad," he said.

Across the world, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that 2.3 million individuals around the world succumb to work-related accidents or diseases every single day.

"This corresponds to over 6,000 deaths every single day," the ILO said on its website.

Employers' duties on workplace safety

Pope Francis said employers should not, in the "name of greater profit," demand too many working hours, decrease concentration, or think of insurance or safety requirements as unnecessary expenses or loss of earnings.

Instead, it is the responsibility of employers' to ensure the safety of their personnel.

"Safety at work is an integral part of care for people. Indeed, for an employer, it is the first duty and the first form of good," the Pope said.

However, Pope Francis pointed out that employers tend to care more about their public images and are likely to commit "carewashing."

"It happens when employers or legislators, instead of investing in safety, prefer to whitewash their consciences with some charitable work. It is bad," the Pope said.

"Responsibility towards workers is paramount: life is not sold for any reason, even more so if it is poor, precarious, and fragile. We are human beings and not machines; unique persons and not spare parts. And very often some workers are treated like spare parts."

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