Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 3: Organizing to improve worker health
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Because problems in the workplace affect many people, often the best way to resolve them is to involve many people. A worker health promoter needs to be able to help other workers get involved, learn, and organize around health at work. Bringing a group together and keeping people motivated to improve worker health is one of the most important things you can do. It takes time and patience to encourage people to participate and keep them involved.
This chapter includes activities to help you bring people into a group to work together, identify and learn more about problems, and educate and convince your co-workers about short-term and long-term ways to improve the workplace. It also shows how forming health and safety committees can help workers, OSH professionals, and employers to make these needed changes happen more smoothly.
When choosing an activity, think about:
- Which activity is best for the kind of information you want to gather now?
- Which activity do you and your co-workers have time for?
- Which activity will create a network for communication among co-workers? Which will increase cooperation with others, including management, OSH professionals, and neighbors?
- Which activity will get workers excited about organizing for change?
What these activities can help you learn
No matter which activity you choose, the information you collect from workers through holding discussions, doing surveys, drawing maps, and comparing notebooks will be different from factory to factory. But to help identify common problems and work on successful solutions, you should always be looking to answer questions like these:
- What problems do all or most workers share?
- Do men and women mention different problems?
- Which health problems happen regularly? Which happen occasionally?
- Which problems are the most serious or can be the most harmful?
- Which problems will most workers be excited to fix?
- Which problems will most interest leaders in the community?
- Which problems can be solved quickly and easily?
Share the information you collect with other workers, especially those who shared their ideas and concerns with you. Talking with your co-workers helps to keep them involved, builds support for changes, and interests them in making more changes in the future. For the same reasons, share information with allies in the community such as church groups, women’s groups, or neighborhood organizations.