Promoting safety and health in agriculture and contributing to China’s Rural Vitalization Strategy

ILO and its partners promote occupational safety and health of agricultural workers in Guizhou Province

News | 27 September 2021
Beijing (ILO News): The ILO, together with the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (CPWDP) and Peking Union Medical College (PUMC), organized a 3-day training in Dafang County, Guizhou Province to improve the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) of rural workers and farmers.

This training marks the beginning of the joint agricultural OSH interventions of ILO, CPWDP and PUMC in Dafang County. Globally, agriculture is one of the three most dangerous sectors to work in, along with mining and construction. In China, there are around 551 million rural population. Compared with urban areas, OSH services and public health facilities are less accessible and developed in rural areas. Farmers in general have weak awareness on OSH.

In 2017, China proposed the Rural Vitalization Strategy as a key move to accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas, and has since adopted a host of policies to chart the roadmap for rural vitalization.

Dafang, a historically poor agricultural county, has just eliminated extreme poverty and still has a large rural population. Capacity building on OSH could potentially benefit large number of rural population in this region. The purpose of the joint interventions is to help local farmers develop basic OSH knowledge on the most common risks in rural work, including ergonomics, machines, vehicles and chemical safety.

At the closing session of the training, Chang-Hee Lee, Director of ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia, highlighted the importance of occupational safety and health in rural development. “To address the “San-nong (agriculture, rural areas and farmers)” problems, agriculture needs to create decent work and quality jobs to make agriculture more attractive to farmers, agricultural worker, and their families”.

Promoting decent work should be an important part of rural vitalization efforts."

Mr. Chang Hee Lee, Director of ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia
Qu Fenghong, Vice-Chairman and Secretary-General of CPWDP, stressed that protection of the occupational health of agricultural workers and farmers should be an important part of rural vitalization. He made high comments of the training for its convening top level OSH experts from ILO and PUMC and providing advanced international methods and tools to local participants.

Feng Luzhao, Vice-President of the School of Population Medicine and Public Health of PUMC, recalled the founding commitment of PUMC to reduction of inequality between the rich and poor through promoting primary health care. He expressed his hope that the pilot agricultural OSH work in Dafang would contribute to the implementation of China’s rural vitalization strategy.

The training used the ILO Ergonomic Checkpoints in Agriculture which has been introduced to China in 2015 by Zhang Min, Professor and Deputy-Director of the Department of Environment and Occupational Health of the PUMC School of Population Medicine and Public Health. Professor Zhang and her team are committed to promotion of occupational health in rural areas and have adapted ILO OSH tools into practical and convenient products for the easy use of agricultural workers and farmers.

With the follow-up interventions for rural population in Dafang, we will make great efforts to enhance local farmers’ OSH awareness and capacity. Furthermore, we’ll explore long-term mechanism on occupational health protection in rural areas."

Prof. PhD Zhang Min, EOH Department, Peking Union Medical College (PUMC)
Around 50 village leaders and local OSH practitioners participated in the training. It is hoped, through the training, Dafang can develop a successful model of improving occupational health through mutual learning among local farmers.