A Project Co-ordinator, a Training Manager, a Finance Officer and an Administrative Assistant will work on the three-year initiative to improve the lives of four million workers.
The OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) Initiative for Workers and Communities scheme will see 75 people trained to deliver workshops, initially in the ready-made garment industry in Dhaka and Chittagong.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has co-funded the project. IOSH, the World Solidarity Movement (WSM) in Belgium, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the USA, LUSH Cosmetics “Charity Pot” in Canada, and a group of anonymous donors in San Francisco, California, have provided a total in excess of $53,000 for the first year of the project.
Shabiha Sultana has been recruited as Project Co-ordinator. She is joined on the team by Md Masud Parvez (Training Manager), Sitara Ferdous Shimla (Finance Officer) and Sadia Afrin (Administrative Assistant).
They will begin developing the curriculum and materials. Once recruited, the trainers will undergo a programme including skill-building courses on techniques for conducting effective courses with workers who have limited formal education and limited time given their work and family responsibilities.
The Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) Foundation in Dhaka is serving as the secretariat of the project, with its offices housed in the Mirpur District of Dhaka.
The OSHE is one of six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the board of the project. The others are labour rights group Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity, research and information organisation Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies, public health organisation Gonoshasthaya Kendra, trade union group IndustriALL Bangladesh Council and women’s rights organisation Naripokkho.
They are joined on the board by the California Collaborative, which is made up of four safety and health groups in the US state and which organised the fundraising.
The appointments of the four staff members were approved at a board meeting, held on 5 February.
At this meeting, the first quarter work plan was also approved. Start-up activities include establishing an expert Curriculum Advisory Committee to work with the Training Manager in developing courses, launching a website and electronic flyer, and recruiting the first class of training participants – five people from each of the six member organisations.
Garrett Brown, Co-ordinator of the California Collaborative, said: “With the hiring of well-qualified and dedicated staff, we look forward to the development of effective OHS materials and training workshops that are understandable and useful for Bangladeshi workers and their communities.
“We pledge our continued support for the project and salute IOSH’s leadership in helping to launch it.”
Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at IOSH, said: “This is an important project, as it’ designed to help build capacity within the Bangladeshi communities.
“Once trainers are trained, they will be able to provide training to many, thereby raising awareness of health and safety more widely. IOSH is very pleased to be involved and we’re delighted that the project has made such a positive start.”
As the project develops it will expand to other major industries, such as tanneries, construction and ship-breaking.