The field of OHS does not usually cover informal workers. It focuses on formal workplaces, not on where the majority of workers really work – on the streets, in their own homes, on garbage dumps and at landfills, for example. OHS tends to define health problems very narrowly, and does not see the worker in the context of family, living and working in very poor conditions.
In this project, we are exploring how to develop OHS in a way that can better meet the needs of informal workers. We are thinking of new ways to support informal workers, including new forms of support from governments, and from those who profit from the work of informal workers but do not contribute to improving their place of work.
Some of the project objectives are to:
- understand better the risks faced by poorer workers in the main places where they work
- identify how to modify legal and institutional barriers to the inclusion of informal workers and workplaces into OHS
- support and assist MBOs of informal workers in shaping focused demands for OHS interventions, and in negotiating for policy change and implementation
- understand the allocation, control and flow of resources to OHS in order to identify spaces for reallocation or increased allocation to informal workers and workplaces
- help build in-country research and organizing capacity in OHS for informal workers
- improve the collection and reporting of country-based statistics on OHS for informal workers to international regulating agencies (such as ILO and WHO)
- Develop a module for data collection on OHS for informal workers in labour force surveys
- Contribute to the development and implementation of an expanded or alternative curriculum which integrates OHS for informal workers and workplaces into mainstream OHS training institutions
During the four years of project activity, we have worked in one city in four different countries (Ghana, Tanzania, Brazil and Peru), and two cities in India. We continue to work with in-country researchers and with informal worker organizations.