Creating a Safe Work Place


Steve Myersco and Ruby Jones look at a small workshop in Northern India. And they look at efforts to create safe working conditions everywhere.

Transcript


Voice 1

Hello and welcome to Spotlight. I'm Steve Myersco.

Voice 2

And I'm Ruby Jones. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Twenty-five workers are busy in a small workshop in Agra, northern India. Carefully, they shape soft stones into objects for sale. They make boxes, bowls, small animals! The working conditions here are not perfect. Often, there are power cuts. This means that the electricity supply stops. But there is something very different about this workshop. Unlike other stone workshops, there is hardly any dust here at all! And this is very strange. Making the objects is dusty work! As well as this, the workers receive good earnings. So they are healthy and happy! In today's programme we tell the story behind this workshop. And we tell about work to improve working conditions for people everywhere.

Voice 2

R.C. Marble Handicrafts is the name of the workshop in Agra. It is a family business. Ramesh Chand and his brothers manage the workshop. They make the stone objects from marble. Marble is a shiny looking stone. It looks very nice, but when you cut it, it produces a lot of dust. This can mean that workers breathe in the fine dust particles all day. And this is not healthy! After a day's work, people go home covered with white dust from head to toe! Ramesh and his workers were used to this. However, this changed when they began working with an organisation called Asha Handicrafts.

Voice 1

Asha Handicrafts is based in Mumbai. The group began in 1975. Its aim is to ‘trade, train and transform (change).' Asha works with small businesses and workers. It gives them financial support and training. Its values are: to put people before profits and to do business with the aim of changing lives. Asha also makes sure that producers receive a fair share of the value of their product. And Asha works to ensure that no child labour is involved in the process.

Voice 2

One of Asha's producers is R.C. Marble Handicrafts - managed by Ramesh Chand. When Asha members visited Ramesh's workshop they noticed the dust problem.  They wanted to solve this problem. But expert advisers told them that it would be costly. So, the Asha team asked Ramesh for his ideas.

Voice 1

Ramesh suggested that they fit a series of extractor fans under the floors of the workshop. The extractor fans could extract - remove - the dust from the workshop. Ramesh wrote down the plans. Then, Asha showed the plans to a mechanical engineer. The engineer told them that it was a low technology solution. But it would work!

Voice 2

However, there was still a problem. The R.C. Marble Handicrafts workshop was on the ground floor of Ramesh's house. And they could not build the new extractor system there. There was only one answer. R.C. Marble needed a new building. Asha and aid group Tearfund gave Ramesh some money to start building a new workshop. And Ramesh borrowed the remaining money. After three years, the project was complete. Ramesh and his team had a new workshop with the fan extractor system!

Voice 1

Walk into R.C. Marble Handicrafts today and it is a completely different place! Workers are not covered in white dust. The extractor system has greatly reduced the amount of dust floating in the air. Workers only need to wear a protective mask for a small number of jobs now, instead of all the time. When visitors go to the workshop they are amazed. They are used to seeing people covered in white dust! But now, workers remain clean and healthy. R.C. Marble Handicrafts has become a popular place. Workers from other places ask Ramesh if they can work for him. They want to work in a clean and healthy environment. And they want to receive fair earnings. Thanks to Ramesh and Asha, they now know that such things are possible.

Voice 2

Asha Handicrafts works with thousands of skilled workers across India. Together, they are spreading positive values in the work place. These ensure that workers are treated fairly. And they ensure that workshops are safe. Here are some of the guidelines that Asha uses for its producers' workshops:

Voice 1

Water filters must be fitted in the work places. Filters clean the water. This is important. Unsafe water causes many diseases.

Voice 2

The electrical wiring of the workshop must be safe. If it is not, Asha makes sure someone does it again - correctly.

Voice 1

Workers must know about particular dangers. For example, it is dangerous to connect unprotected wires directly into electrical fittings. This can cause a fire.

Voice 2

Each workshop must have a fire extinguisher - to put out any fires in the local area.

Voice 1

When working with dust, workers should wear protective masks to cover their faces.

Voice 2

It is important to get rid of production waste correctly.

Voice 1

Asha makes sure that the people they work with follow all these rules. And it gives them support to do so.

Voice 2

The ILO is the International Labour Organisation. It estimates that each year over two million [2,000,000] people die from work-related accidents and diseases. Dangerous substances cause around six hundred and fifty thousand [650,000] deaths. For example, asbestos is a dangerous mineral. Breathing in asbestos severely damages the lungs. It was used a lot in building and industry, but many countries have now banned it - but not all countries. Still, one hundred thousand [100,000] people die each year from working with asbestos. The real numbers are probably much higher, because many cases are not reported.

Voice 1

The ILO brings together governments, employers and workers. Together they seek to encourage good, safe, work throughout the world. Business managers and community leaders can help. They can create safe and healthy environments for their employees. This is a good long term investment for everyone. Safe environments decrease the risk of accidents. Good, safe, environments permit employees to work better and more effectively. This increases profits and well being.

Voice 2

Juan Somavia is the director general of the ILO. He said:

Voice 3

‘Work must be life giving, not life taking. Good work is also safe work.'

Voice 1

Organisations like Asha Handicrafts are working to make this come true. In the ancient Sanskrit language, Asha means ‘hope.' With the support of everyone in the community, there is hope for a better, safer working environment. And it is in everyone's interest to make this happen.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of today's programme was Marina Santee. Ramesh's story is from a magazine produced by Tearfund and written by Lucas Caldeira. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. Computer users can find our programmes on our website at http://www.radio.english.net. The programme is called: ‘Creating a Safe Work Place.'

Voice 1

If you have comments or questions about our programmes, write to us. Our email address is radio @ english . net. Thank you for listening to today's Spotlight. Goodbye.

Comments


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wyj88
said on November 06, 2010

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tori
said on January 08, 2012

hello. I come from Viet Nam.the safe work in my country is difficult problem. Every year, there are many people who die from work-related accident and diseases.cause working environment is not safe, there is not enough modern equipment to protect workers. Government enacted many laws for employees to protect their interest but maybe it is not done properly. I hope this situation will be improved in the future