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close this bookLow-Cost Ways of Improving Working Conditions: 100 Examples from Asia (ILO, 1989, 190 p.)
close this folderINTRODUCTION
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentSelection of examples
View the documentTypes of improvements
View the documentThe potential for action
View the documentContributions of case studies

The potential for action

The many different problems of working conditions and environment in developing countries cannot be solved all at once: progressive improvement is necessary. Here, however, problems arise. It is often difficult for enterprises to identify and apply feasible, appropriate measures. In addition to economic difficulties, most enterprises lack access to technical knowledge and specialised personnel.

One immediate possibility for the use of this book is therefore to encourage action by employers and workers at enterprise level. It makes clear that there are many simple, inexpensive solutions to nearly all types of working conditions problems. This shows that a fresh look at existing problems can lead to ideas and action which are practical and effective. Many of the examples in this book can be directly applied. In other cases, modifications will be necessary but the ideas can be used as a point of departure. In still other cases, an entirely original solution will be found.

This book may also be used to support training at various levels. It can be added to the training materials for inspectors, safety and health personnel and welfare officers in addition to managers, supervisors and workers. Local examples are of great value in such training. These may be collected using this book as a guide.

In applications at enterprise level and in the training of various groups, the following points should be discussed:

- the existence of a wide variety of solutions to problems, many of which are low in cost;

- the value of a fresh, unbiased look at conditions which have become accepted because they have always existed, not because they are inevitable or efficient;

- the need for persons suggesting improvements to consider cost and practicality. This can be especially important for inspectors and other technical specialists;

- the direct and indirect benefits of many of these improvements. The cases report a number of measurable productivity benefits, as well as savings in time, higher product quality and less waste. Reductions in accidents, disease and fatigue are important to worker morale and motivation in addition to avoiding costs to the enterprise.

These points suggest a common interest on the part of government agencies, employers' organisations and trade unions in promoting improvements in working conditions. The identification of low cost improvements is a valuable first step in the action required towards a safer, heathier and more productive working environment.