ILO and Lao Government, Employers and Workers Take Action to Improve Occupational Safety and Health in the Coffee Sector
23 August 2019
Organized in the context of the Vision Zero Fund (VZF) project for Lao PDR – funded by the EU- the training aims to reduce the number of fatal and severe occupational accidents and diseases in the coffee sector. The course built participants’ knowledge on occupational safety and health in agriculture in general and the specific safety and health issues faced by coffee farmers in particular. During the training participants also developed knowledge dissemination and training roll-out plans to be implemented by them and their respective organizations in the months to come.
Coffee is one of Lao PDR’s most important agriculture products in terms of export revenues and the generation of jobs and income for rural communities. It is estimated that at least 25,000 farm households engage in coffee production and that the sector supports the livelihoods of more than 300,000 people. According to a recent survey conducted by the ILO on working conditions in Lao’s coffee farms, workers are exposed to numerous workplace hazards and risks that affect their health as well as their productivity.
Drawing on the survey’s findings, the training focuses on managing hazards and risks entailed by sharp cutting tools and unsafe machines, frequent lifting/heavy load, awkward posture/repetitive movement, exposure to sun/ultraviolet rays, snake bites, use of chemicals.
Additionally, farm workers mentioned financial insecurity as another reason which causes them stress and affects their well-being and productivity. In class room training and practical sessions participants learned how to train coffee farmers on hazard and risk management, including the adoption of adequate prevention and protection measures.
“Having participated in the training, I gained a very good understanding of how workplace safety and health improvements make farm workers’ lives easier and also lead to productivity increases. We will work closely with our members to promote good OSH practices in the coffee sector and protect workers from getting injured and falling sick due to unsafe working conditions” said Mr. Sengchanh Khammountha, Vice President of the Lao Coffee Association.
The training was organised by the ILO project “Occupational Safety and Health in Lao PDR’s Supply Chains” in cooperation with the Department of Labour and Social Welfare, Champasak province, the Lao Coffee Association and the Agriculture Research Centre.
The “Occupational Safety and Health in Lao PDR’s Supply Chains” project is funded by the Vision Zero Fund (VZF), a G7 multi-donor initiative, which is administered by the ILO. The aim of the VZF is to reduce work-related accidents, injuries and diseases and improve access to employment injury insurance in global supply chains. The Vision Zero Fund project in Lao PDR is currently funded through a contribution from the EU.