|dc.description||Occupational health and safety
Safety of food workers
The relevant national authority for legislation on safety, health, hygiene and the working environment for agricultural and food worker is usually located in the ministry dealing with labour affairs.
In many cases, the national legislation is guided by a convention which has been adopted by the International Labour Office. A part of the United Nations system, the ILO is composed of representatives of national governments, and employers and workers organisations. There are about 30 such conventions, covering such aspects of work safety as the maximum weight a person should carry, or the provision of health services for workers. Many of these conventions have not been ratified by many ACP states but they provide useful guidelines, and an indication of reasonable safety standards. A new convention on the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in Agriculture is expected to be adopted by the ILO in June 2001, providing coverage for hundreds of millions of agricultural workers, although not in subsistence farming, forestry or agro-processing.
The ILO has priced publications on OSH in agriculture, including codes of practice for the use of tractors, the use of agrochemicals, maximum weights, and first aid, and several covering forestry work. The major gateway to these services is through the International Occupational Health and Safety Information Centre (CIS), ILO, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 799 8516; email: email@example.com
The CIS can provide contacts in each ACP country (it has collaborating centres in 22) and copies of conventions, and several publications, free through its online services on its Safework Website: www.ilo.int/public/english/protection/safework/cis .
More directly attuned to the interests of agricultural workers is the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers Associations (IUF), often referred to in agricultural circles as the International Union of Food Workers. The IUF supports national organisations in ensuring proper OSH protection, and can link you with national member bodies. Like the ILO, it is not too familiar with operating in the absence of effectively enforced legislation; as a federation of member organisations it cannot always be fully helpful to unorganised or subsistence farmers. Its information, however, as with that of the ILO, provides reliable material and examples of best practice. IUF, Rampe du Pont-Rouge 8, CH-1213 Petit-Lancy, Switzerland. Fax: + 41 22 793 22 38; email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Its well-organised Website: http://www.iuf.org/ is in French, English and Spanish.
In the field of care of agricultural workers, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) has a section dealing with the prevention of occupational risks in agriculture: ISSA-Agriculture, Weissenstrasse 72, D-34131 Kassel, Germany; fax: 49 561 935 94 14; email: email@example.com. Aware that social security rights are minimal in many countries, ISSA is organising a colloquium on Prevention of occupational risks a common challenge for developing and industrial countries, in Tunis, Tunisia, from 1 to 4 October 2001.
For an overview of OSH activities in Africa, the thrice-yearly African Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety is a regular and reliable source. Recent thematic issues have included Women at work, Chemicals and safety, Ergonomics, Dusts and Training and information sources. The September 2001 issue (2/2001) will focus upon Agriculture. Published by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health as part of the ILO-FINNIDA African Safety and Health Project, it is free, printed or in electronic pdf format, from FIOH, Topeliuksenkatu 41a A, FIN-00250 Helsinki, Finland. Fax: +358 9 4747 2490; email: Marianne. Joronen@occuphealth.fi; Website: www.occuphealth.fi/e/info/anl
One sub-regional OSH service, with a long history of cooperation with labour, agriculture and the informal sector, is the Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) which provides services throughout the SADC region. TARSC, 47 Van Praagh Avenue, Milton Park, Harare, Zimbabwe. Fax: + 263 4 73 72 20; email: icon.co.zw; Website: http://www.tarsc.org/ . Other regional and sub-regional services can be identified through the ILO-CIS and IUF. In the overall field of safety, there is no effective world association of the safety profession to go to seek local contacts.
One key way to minimise accidents, injuries and disability is in the field of ergonomics meaning safe equipment and workplace design which will 'maximise productivity by reducing operator fatigue, discomfort and potential injury.' A key source is the study on Agricultural implements used by Women Farmers in Africa , undertaken by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Agricultural Engineering Branch (AGSE) of the FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy. Fax: + 39 06 5705 6798; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A more general set of Guidelines on ergonomics in agriculture is being prepared, in collaboration with the UK s Silsoe Research Institute, by Valentina Forastieri at the Safework-Agriculture desk in ILO, fax: +41 22 799 68 78; email: email@example.com
This survey of information links does not cover the use or disposal of pesticides, or food safety. Detailed articles on these much-requested topics will appear in future issues of Spore.||