Exposure to work hazards brought about by the use of chemicals and sharp tools, or extreme weather condition is a constant risk for sugar farm workers. Wearing the appropriate PPE or personal protective equipment will help avert the perils of illnesses or accidents among workers.
Last April 30 and May 28, 2019, twenty seven ARBOs agreed to a 30% cost share in the procurement and distribution of PPE to all members who work in chemical spraying, fertilizer application or manual harvest. They also agreed to conduct farm-site PPE orientations to benefit more than 1,100 farmer-members, reaching approximately 17% of the total number of sugar farmers in the 3 milling districts in North Negros Occidental.
These milestones were reached during the 2 batches of SIFI-led Trainings on PPE participated in by 66 Officers and Board members, all small planters, from 27 ARBOs in the milling districts of Hawaiian-Philippine Company, Victorias Milling Company and LOPEZ Sugar Corporation. One of the interventions under the Responsible Sourcing from Small Holders or RSS program implemented by SIFI and the 3 mills, small farmers are provided with valuable and key information on how the sugar farms can become a safe workplace. Farmers learn the benefits of using the appropriate PPE versus negative effects of using improvised PPE. The training is also a venue to advocate to ARBOs to promote PPE use by working members and spreading key messages. More than half of the 27 ARBOs manage communal farms, thus have influence towards ensuring safety in the work place.
The SIFI-RSS Program team, led by Judy Ann U. Gonzaga, Technical Consultant, together with Julio Labayen III and a partner from LEADS Agriculture Products, Luceno Canete, were resource speakers.
The more ARBOs join in PPE advocacy and promotion, the more we move an inch closer towards ensuring farm workers’ safety and health.