World Day for Safety and Health at Work

On 26 April 2014, on the occasion of the then upcoming World Day for Safety and Health (28 April), Better Work Lesotho and its partners came together in Maseru to raise awareness on issues of occupational safety and health (OSH). It was a day celebrated worldwide which promoted the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally. This year’s leading theme by the International Labour Organization (ILO) was Safety and Health in the Use of Chemicals at Work.

Chemicals are key to modern life, and will continue to be produced and used in workplaces. With concerted efforts, governments, employers, and workers and their organizations can achieve the sound management of chemicals for an appropriate balance between the benefits of chemical use and the preventive and control measures of potential adverse impacts on workers, workplaces, communities and the environment. Unprotected exposure to hazardous chemicals can have a severe impact on workers’ health, including respiratory and skin diseases, burns, eye and nose irritation.

Chemicals are also a critical part of garment production processes which involve washing, dyeing, finishing or spot cleaning. Chemical safety management therefore remains key in factories where workers are exposed to chemicals as part of their job assignments.

Latest garment industry assessment findings by Better Work Lesotho show improvements under a number of chemical safety areas, such as for labelling, storage and record keeping of chemicals, training of workers in chemical handling and preventing or limiting workers’ exposure to hazardous chemicals. Areas where there has been a decline in the compliance standard relate to non-availability of Material Safety Data Sheets and not having adequate washing facilities and cleansing material in the event of exposure to hazardous chemicals. Better Work Lesotho assists factories under the program in improving their chemical safety conditions through offering training on OSH, industry seminars on chemical safety, advisory services and the dissemination of Good Practice Sheets.

The Better Work Lesotho Day for Safety and Health at Work event is supported by the Labour Department, employer associations and garment sector unions. Key messages delivered by Better Work Lesotho partners will underline the importance of chemical safety to protect workers and the environment.

Better Work Lesotho, an initiative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), is working with garment and footwear factories in the country to improve their compliance with labour standards and promote their competitiveness in the apparel sector, in Lesotho and globally. To assist factories in their efforts to continuously improve their compliance with international core labour standards and the national labour law, the program offers factory assessment, advisory and training services. Better Work Lesotho is funded by the United States Department of Labor, and is part of the ILO’s Decent Work Country Program. It currently works with 18 factories, representing 43% of the country’s garment and footwear establishments and about 60% of the sector’s workforce.

For more information about the OSH event and Better Work Lesotho, please contact Kristina Kurths, Program Manager, at +266-22314638 or