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Standard 3: Community Health, Safety and Working Conditions

The Community Health and Safety Standard recognizes that project activities, equip­ment, and infrastructure can inc​rease community exposure to risks and impacts. This Standard addresses the need to avoid or minimize t​​he risks and impacts to commu­nity health and safety that may arise from project-related activities, with particular attention given to marginalized groups.​

Labour is one of a country’s most important assets in the pursuit of poverty reduction. Respect of workers’ rights and the provision of safe working conditions are keystones for developing a strong and productive workforce.
  • To anticipate and avoid adverse impacts on the health and safety of affected communities during the Project life cycle from both routine and non-routine circumstances
  • To respect and promote workers’ rights, to promote the right to decent work, fair treatment, non-discrimination, and equal opportunity for workers, and to avoid the use of forced labour and child labour (as defined by the ILO)
  • To provide workers with safe and healthy working conditions and to prevent accidents, injuries, and disease
Scope of Application
The applicability of this Standard is established during the social and environmental screening and categorization process. Requirements of this Standard apply to Projects that may pose significant risks to human health and safety and to Projects that seek to strengthen employment and livelihoods. Standards to avoid or minimize impacts on human health and the environment due to pollution are included in Standard 7: Pollution Prevention and Resource Efficiency.

Community health and safety: Community health and safety refers to protecting local communities from hazards caused and/or exacerbated by Project activities (including flooding, landslides, contamination or other natural or human-made hazards), disease, and the accidental collapse or failure of Project structural elements such as dams. Project-related activities may directly, indirectly or cumulatively change community exposure to hazards. A significant concern with major development projects is the spread of communicable diseases from the workforce to the surrounding communities.

UNDP will ensure that Projects evaluate the risks to, and potential impacts on, the safety of affected communities during the design, construction, operation, and decommissioning of Projects and establish preventive measures and plans to address them in a manner commensurate with the identified risks and impacts. These measures (48) will favour the prevention or avoidance of risks and impacts over their minimization and reduction. Consideration will be given to potential exposure to both accidental and natural hazards, especially where the structural elements of the Project are accessible to members of the affected community or where their failure could result in injury to the community. UNDP will ensure that Projects avoid or minimize the exacerbation of impacts caused by natural or man-made hazards, such as landslides or floods that could result from land use changes due to Project activities. UNDP will ensure that Projects are gender-sensitive and consider how women’s and children’s health and safety could be particularly at risk.

Infrastructure safety: Structural elements will be designed and constructed by competent professionals and certified or approved by competent authorities or professionals. For Projects with structural elements or components whose failure or malfunction may threaten the safety of communities, UNDP will ensure that: (i) plans for Project supervision, operation, and maintenance are developed and monitored; (ii) independent expertise on the verification of design, construction, and operational procedures is used; and (iii) periodic safety inspections are carried out. (49)

Emergency preparedness: UNDP will ensure that the Implementing Partner, in collaboration with appropriate and relevant authorities and third parties, will be prepared to respond to accidental and emergency situations in a manner appropriate to prevent and mitigate any harm to people and/or the environment. This preparation, reflected in planning documents, will include the identification of areas where accidents and emergency situations may occur, communities and individuals that may be impacted, response procedures, provision of equipment and resources, designation of responsibilities, communication, and periodic training to ensure effective response. The emergency preparedness and response activities will be periodically reviewed and revised, as necessary to reflect changing conditions. UNDP will consider the differential impacts of emergency situations on women and men, the elderly, children, disabled people, and potentially marginalized groups, and strengthen the participation of women in decision-making processes on emergency preparedness and response strategies. Appropriate information about emergency preparedness and response activities, resources, and responsibilities will be disclosed to affected communities.

Community exposure to disease: UNDP will ensure that Projects avoid or minimize the potential for community exposure to water-borne, water-based, water-related, and vector-borne diseases, and communicable diseases (e.g. HIV, TB and malaria) that could result from Project activities, taking into consideration the differentiated exposure to and higher sensitivity of marginalized groups, including communities living in voluntary isolation. UNDP will ensure that Projects avoid or minimize transmission of communicable diseases that may be associated with the influx of temporary or permanent Project labour.

Work standards: UNDP respects and promotes the right to decent work. (50) For Projects that aim to strengthen employment and livelihoods, UNDP will ensure compliance with national labour and occupational health and safety laws, with obligations under international law, and consistency with the principles and standards embodied in the International Labor Organization (ILO) fundamental conventions, including freedom of association, elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation, elimination of forced or compulsory labour, and elimination of the worst forms of child labour. (51)

Occupational health and safety: Occupational health and safety refers to protecting workers from accident, injury or illness associated with exposure to hazards encountered in the workplace. Hazards can arise from materials (including chemical, physical and biological substances and agents), environmental or working conditions (e.g. oxygen-deficient environments, excessive temperatures, improper ventilation, poor lighting, faulty electrical systems), or work processes (including tools, machinery and equipment). UNDP will ensure that workers (52) are provided with a safe and healthy working environment, taking into account risks inherent to the particular sector (including gender bias) and specific classes of hazards in the work areas. Where relevant, UNDP will ensure steps are taken to prevent accidents, injury, and disease arising from, associated with, or occurring d​uring the course of work and will ensure the application of preventive and protective measures consistent with international good practice, as reflected in internationally-recognized standards such as the World Bank Group’s Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines. (53)
Security-related issues: Where UNDP Projects involve engagement of security personnel to protect facilities and personal property, security arrangements should be provided in a manner that does not violate human rights or jeopardize the community’s safety and security. UNDP will ensure that potential risks posed by security arrangements to those within and outside the Project area are assessed, that those providing security are appropriately vetted and trained, and that security arrangements are appropriately monitored and reported. (54)​​

​​(48) Preventive and control measures shall be consistent with good international practice, such as the World Bank Group Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines (EHS Guidelines), available at
(49) In the event that UNDP provides support for large or complex dams, UNDP will ensure that best practice policies and/or guidelines are followed, such as those of the World Commission on Dams report “Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making,” and the World Bank Operational Policy 4. 37 Safety of Dams. Large dams are defined as those of 15 meters or more in height. Complex dams are those of a height between 10 and 15 meters that present special design complexities, including an unusually large flood-handling requirement, location in a zone of high seismicity, foundations that are complex and difficult to prepare, or retention of toxic materials. For small dams, UNDP will ensure that appropriate guidelines are followed, such as FAO’s “Manual on Small Earth Dams,” available at
(50) See UN Development Group “Right to Decent Work,” available at​. The Right to Decent Work is supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda, and many internationally recognised conventions. Programming in support of the Right to Decent Work aims to ensure that everyone – without discrimination – has sufficient access and equal opportunity to work that provides adequate compensation, just and favourable conditions, equal and adequate remuneration for work of equal value, and the rights to organize and bargain collectively. See more at:
(51) ILO Conventions Nos. 29 and 105 (forced and bonded labour), 87 (freedom of association), 98 (right to collective bargaining), 100 and 111 (discrimination), 138 (minimum age), 182 (worst forms of child labour). Guidance materials will elaborate key provisions for implementing requirements related to work standards.
(52) Including nonemployee workers engaged by contractors or other intermediaries to work on Project sites or perform work directly related to the Project’s core functions.
(53) World Bank Group, “Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines”, available at Risk prevention and reduction measures should include identification and minimization of potential hazards, use of appropriate equipment, training of workers, documentation and reporting of accidents and incidents, and emergency preparedness and response measures.  
(54) UNDP applies the “Human rights due diligence policy on United Nations support to non-United Nations security forces” by which UN agencies ensure that any support that they may provide to non-United Nations forces is consistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with their responsibilities to respect, promote and encourage respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. See​. For additional guidance, see also the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, available at​.