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Helping Workers Take Health in Their Own Hands

Helping Workers Take Health in Their Own Hands

NOTE: This is a guest blog post from April Thompson, Director of Marketing and Communications of GoodWeave USA.

Asia’s rug industry has been plagued for decades by child labor and hazardous working conditions. Today, the industry is emerging from its past. Given the potential hazards of carpet making, it’s important that factories help mitigate the risks — and equally important that workers know precautions they can take to help prevent illness and injury on the job. To this end, the nonprofit organization GoodWeave, which works to end child labor in the rug industry, has piloted a series of awareness trainings and mobile health clinics for workers in licensed weaving facilities.

India’s “Building Healthy Communities” program, implemented by the Advit Foundation, offers interactive trainings on occupational health and safety, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, as well as diagnostic health care services via mobile health clinics.

Through simple actions like using protective equipment and being vigilant about potential symptoms, participating workers are empowered to take charge of their own health. More than 1,200 workers in 13 factories in the carpet-weaving region of Panipat have benefitted since 2010.

“We’ve gotten feedback from the factory management that the training we imparted has gone a long way in improving workers’ habits,” said Ritu Tyagi, Program Director for GoodWeave India. “Now workers are not only using personal protective equipment, but some are even making lifestyle changes like eating healthier and quitting smoking.”

Rajesh, a 28-year-old carpet packer who has worked in factories for 10 years, said, “I learned a lot of things from the training, like keeping windows open, wearing masks and having proper exhaust systems in place while working.”

The trainings seem to be having a positive impact on worker health. Doctors at the diagnostic health camps identified only two percent of participating carpet workers as suffering from work-related ailments. Under Indian law, these workers are eligible for paid medical leave and free treatment at government hospitals.

In February, follow-up trainings were held in 10 factories to reinforce lessons learned in previous workshops. GoodWeave will also follow up with workers to gauge whether their initial behavioral changes have stuck, and if they have noticed any improvements in their health as a result.

The “Building Healthy Communities” program not only benefits the workers but also their employers, helping to keep a healthy, happy workforce for the years to come.

Click here for a photo album featuring the health clinics and other elements of GoodWeave’s work toward “healthy communities,” including medical check-ups provided to rescued child weavers on World Day Against Child Labor, June 12.

Related Stories:

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Aung San Suu Kyi Collects Nobel Peace Prize

Nicaragua: The Continued Struggle to End Child Labor

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Photo credit: GoodWeave India; A health awareness session in the Panipat District, Haryana, India

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14 comments

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7:34AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

many thanks

12:19PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

good to know

10:49AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

awareness is a great tool in health care. congrats. goodweave.

9:02AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Excellent Goodweave. Now can you come back to NA and teach some companies the same lessons? Workplace accidents happened when undertrained people who are desperate for work take jobs for which they are neither qualified nor cable of doing. In time of need employers get away with things because people are afraid to speak out. An example would be the increase in poor quality housing that is on the rise in our province. I don't mean old hhouses that are 100 tyears old. I mean buildings that either aren't finished yet but are a death trap once people move in.

6:02AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Thanks

1:39AM PDT on Jun 24, 2012

good to know

2:25PM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

This is wonderful.It's about time that faxtory workers rights werefinally taken into account.

9:22AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

India has a long way to go but it is a start...hopefully others will follow

8:16AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

Good news!!

4:54AM PDT on Jun 23, 2012

protect life, prosecute those that seek to destroy our shared home and our fellow beings
life has value beyond measure
Peace and Love
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DEMOLISH ------>>>>> THIS WALL !!!!
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