I was privileged to be invited by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) to give a lecture on Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Standards required for Planation Certification at their Headquarters in Colombo last Friday (5th September 2014).

My talk was part of the Advanced Certificate Course in OSH for the Plantation Sector. Participants are from Regional Planation Companies (RPCs) all aiming to become a Qualified Safety Officer at their respective factories.

The course was designed specifically for the tea plantation sector and is now in its third year. This continuation means that good OSH practice at factories that supply ETP members is being embedded making them safer places to work.

Dushy Perera gives a lecture on OHS at NIOSH head quartersThree years ago independent auditing against the ETP Global Standard was picking up health and safety issues among Sri Lankan producers, which is the reason why the Diploma was created in partnership with NIOSH and the World University Service of Canada. Since then there has been a vast improvement in the management of fundamental risks, and this can be attributed to the fact that course participants leave with a renewed vigour to take personal responsibility for site safety and worker welfare!

The course is made up of 120 hours of classroom training covering a range of subject matter such as: OSH legislation; food safety; premises safety; electrical, mechanical, boiler, fire, and chemical safety; ergonomics, first aid, stress management, and standards required for certification.

In addition course participants complete a further 120 hours of fieldwork including a work place risk analysis, which is a great was to make participants scrutinise their own factory standards. Another important aspect of the course is a field visit to the Tea Research Institute where they get to see a state of the art tea factory and OSH award winning industrial factory etc.

In order to graduate participants are required to pass an oral examination and present a written risk analysis and remediation action plan for their own work place. The graduation ceremony, which will be graced by the Minister of Labour, will take place during National Safety Week in Sri Lanka on 16th October at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo.