April 28th is the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, a day marked by the International Labour Organization to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.
As the ILO website notes: “Sustainable Development Goal 8 ... Target 8.8 focuses on the ‘protection of labour rights and promotion of safe and secure working environments for all workers.’”
While workers in the Global South often lack basic health and safety assurances, the Fairtrade Standards are intended to have such provisions in place for all farmers and workers who are part of the Fairtrade system.
For Small Producer Organizations, summary examples of the detailed requirements imposed by the Standards include the following:
- safety of work processes, workplaces, machinery and equipment on production sites;
- restrictions on who can perform potentially hazardous work, with specialized training and protective equipment for those who do carry out such work;
- the provision of first aid kits and training, clean drinking water and toilet facilities;
- clear display of health and safety notices.
For Hired Labour Organizations, the above all apply and the Standards also include:
- the appointment of a health & safety officer, and the establishment of a health and safety committee;
- the provision of rest areas and kitchens;
- adequate lighting, heating and ventilation of indoor workplaces, along with fire escapes, fire-fighting equipment, and evacuation training;
- worker health care monitoring, and medical attention in the case of work-related illness or injury.
When you buy products bearing the FAIRTRADE Mark you can feel good about the farmers and workers behind them having the best opportunities for safe and healthy working conditions.
Image shows a worker at Los Pinos coop in El Salvador. All use of chemicals on farm is strictly controlled and health and safety procedures are adhered to. © Sean Hawkey