The Financial Express

Adapting creative approaches to protect workers from hazards

| Updated: December 25, 2020 20:59:50

Evaly and Fianancial Express Evaly and Fianancial Express
Adapting creative approaches to protect workers from hazards

The deplorable working conditions in many employment sectors of Bangladesh economy especially in its small and medium enterprises and informal sectors necessitate adapting creative approaches to outreach workers in these workplaces to convey occupational safety and health (OSH) messages. Vast economic activities in Bangladesh are performed relying mostly on informal work arrangements. Following is a summary of some training methods applied successfully in different countries and sectors where workers are hard to reach and have limited literacy.

RISK MAPPING: This is a helpful method for OSH trainers to connect worker participants in an enthusiastic process of hazard detection where the trainees themselves identify major hazards in their workplaces.  Trainees are split up into small groups and asked to create a graphic drawing of their workplace.  Stocked with various colored highlighters, participants take note of the specific risks they recognize in each area, correlated with each step, process, method, system, and so forth. Distinct colors are applied for chemical, physical, ergonomic, safety, and stress hazards.

BODY MAPPING: This allows worker participants to identify health symptoms through a process of pictorial depiction. Trainees are separated into small groups and given a sketch of the human body, on which they place marks showing where they suffer pain in their bodies. The quest aims to enable participants to look at frequent patterns of health signs that may be work-related.

STORY-TELLING USING VISUAL TOOLS: This technique of telling a story using visual materials is an effective method for transmitting information to low-literacy trainees and keeping them engaged in discussions. Resources that rely mostly on sketches, with only limited text in plain language, have been used successfully to train workers in a variety of sectors. Such materials, when done wisely, are not naive, but rich in content; this introduces a familiar human drama that delivers a captivating context in which to convey OSH-related lesson.

SIMULATIONS: Hands-on drills and simulations are other effective methods of keeping participants involved in a training program and needing them to utilise understanding gained in real-life circumstances. This method is good to practice comparatively simple tasks, such as wearing a seat belt for drivers in the transportation sector, or for more complex processes, such as putting into practice an emergency response plan for a fire incident in a factory. These methods are remarkably dynamic in reinforcing training messages because they involve trainees to replicate lessons learned and lead to the development of plans for managing unanticipated incidents.

ROLE PLAYS: This presents a challenge to a group of worker trainees to engage them in contemplation and expansion of possible solutions to a problem. In a usual role play, trainers might seek volunteers from among the participants to read an easy script that describes a situation in which a worker faces a hazardous safety situation at work, but fears losing job if concerns are raised to the employer. The trainer would then turn to the full group and ask them to express their ideas on how the worker would react in this situation.

COMPUTER-BASED INSTRUCTION: This has been widely used in OSH training which can vary from simply putting lectures into a computer presentation format to highly appealing, interactive programs needing trainees to reflect on messages to apply new information to solve problems. More useful computer-based instruction should provide continuous feedback to trainees to enable them to appraise their advancement and learn from errors.

QUIZZES AND GAMES: These and other similar activities can be a useful and enjoyable way to transmit and emphasize information. Instead of simply reading a list of rights that employees enjoy under Bangladesh's 2006 Labor Act and 2015 Labor Rules, for example, a trainer may present this in the form of a quiz, asking workers to identify which statements are correct and which incorrect. Each quiz question can be followed by more comprehensive clarification by the trainer, and the group may be encouraged to review matters or problems that evolve. Games can be used to strengthen training lessons, instead of a verbal or written review of information contained in the training.

ARTS-BASED APPROACHES: Drama, theater, video, and other arts-based approaches can engage trainees in inventive methods to recognize problems and contemplate solutions in ways that often feel more "real" to participants than traditional training. One method may involve the presentation of a simple theater piece presenting a problem relevant to training participants. Trainees are encouraged to step into the show as actors at any point, to represent their ideas and sway the course of the dialogue. Another method can be where workers were equipped with cameras and asked to photograph hazardous situations in their jobs. The photos are then used as the basis for group discussion and reflection on solutions to these safety and health hazards. This method has been used successfully by OSH trainers to confront trainees to reflect on how they would respond to a workplace problem and tackle barriers to solutions.

STORYTELLING: It is another creative method of training that can be a powerful learning tool. Many workers in highly hazardous trades learn job- and safety-related skills and information more from their worker associates and friends than from professional trainers. In storytelling as a training technique, young shipbreaking workers' attention can be engendered by having experienced shipbreaking workers telling stories of workplace disasters that led to deaths and injuries of friends and co-workers.

Bangladesh's economy depends greatly on part-time, seasonal, casual, and daily labor. Many large employment sectors rely on informal work arrangements and in some sectors workers' risk of death, injury, and illness is sadly very high. OSH education and training programmes in Bangladesh must adapt new and creative approaches to help these workers.

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