Entrepreneurs and worker representatives have acknowledged the need to improve occupational safety and health (OSH) to improve working conditions which contribute to productivity of orthodox tea, ginger, dairy and cardamom that have unique competitive advantage for niche international market.
Nepal’s eastern hilly districts of Ilam, Panchthar, Tehrathum, Taplejung, Dhankuta, Bhojpur and Sankhuwasabha are famous for producing high value cash crops.
Attending a three day program organized by International Labour Organization (ILO) in Ilam, the participants of training of trainers on occupational safety and health said basic OSH practices were still a luxury in tea factories and farms.
According to a press release issued by ILO, senior Specialist in OSH and Labour Inspection at ILO New Delhi Office, Dr. Tsuyoshi Kawakami provided training to tea factory and farm owners, managers, workers, agencies involved in tea sector and media representatives.
“Occupational safety and health at workplace should be an everyday issue for every worker and manager and it is not something that should be consulted when a mishap takes place,” stressed Dr. Kawakami.
He also co-related productivity with occupational safety and health and urged the management and workers to discuss ways to improve working conditions in factories and farms.
Citing several examples, Dr Kawakami said workplace environment could be improved with simple, low cost and clever initiatives like using personal protective equipment for workers or even maintaining an elbow height for work or to avoid physical exertion.
National Program Coordinator of ILO/UNNATI Program, Nabin Kumar Karna said adherence to OSH standards was important not just to convince the international buyers of orthodox tea and other agro products but to ensure safety and wellbeing of workers and making workplaces safer and healthier; important aspect of responsible business practice.
The participants visited two nearby tea factories and triangulated their theoretical learning into action.
The ILO provided a checklist on occupational safety and health to workers and factory managers and urged them to discuss more often on ways to improve their workplace environment.