Safety and health at work

Farm safety: A new beginning

Agriculture is one of the dangerous sectors, where workers suffer from cuts and injuries, and often exposed to harmful chemicals and long hours of work. The ILO highlights the need to improve occupational safety and health in agriculture.

Feature | 23 April 2018
The row of icy green lettuce and the aroma of fresh roasted coffee lead to a bamboo hut where farmers take a break. Bryan smiles as he removes his pair of gloves, straw hat and long-sleeved shirt. The 37-year old farmer and father of five children is working on the site for over a decade.

Bryan works in an organic farm, which promotes safety and health of workers and counts days without lost time accident (Photo by: ILO/M. Rimando)
Bryan covers 1,500 square meters out of the 11 hectares of organic farm where he plants lettuce and herbs. He is not worried about harmful chemicals due to the use of chicken manure. The organic farm where Bryan works also fosters a culture of prevention and counts number of days without a lost time accident.

Working in the farm however was different for Bryan 20 years ago. At 15 years old, Bryan dropped out of school to work in a coffee plantation. “I worked long hours to earn a few pesos. I suffered from cuts and insect bites, without any protection. I felt I had no choice but to accept whatever work is available,” Bryan shares.

Agriculture is one of the priority sectors of the ILO’s SafeYouth@Work Project, along with construction and manufacturing. The project, funded by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) completed an assessment of the current occupational safety and health (OSH) knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in the Philippines.

“We found out a significant need to improve OSH conditions and practices for young workers, especially in agriculture. These workers are exposed to harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers, suffer injuries and work for long hours,” explains Katherine Brimon, SafeYouth@Work Programme Coordinator.

The SafeYouth@Work further contributed to enhance the capacity of 30 trade union leaders and young people to develop and to implement training programmes on OSH in the formal and informal economy. Workers visited farms and agricultural sites, including the organic farm where Bryan works to identify gaps and good practices.

“We are developing and improving enterprises, while taking stock of gaps and good practices. As we build the capacity of workers, we expand our reach to promote OSH, especially in agriculture,” Brimon cites.

Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL-26690-14-75-K-11.

This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government. One hundred percentage of the total costs of the project or programme is financed with Federal funds, for a total of 11,443,156 dollars.