Hesperian Health Guides
Many ways to begin to solve problems
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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 2: Learning and teaching about health at work > Many ways to begin to solve problems
While the problems might be clear, sometimes the solutions are not. Ask safety and health professionals for advice and reach out to health workers, union safety representatives, or others with experience. Workers often have good and practical ideas about how to make their work safer. Getting support from a range of people can help you find the most effective and realistic solutions.
Short-term solutions: Simple, low-cost changes that do not need a lot of support from your boss can be a good way to start. A good short-term solution protects workers now and can win their support for a long-term solution. Short-term solutions do not remove the boss’s responsibility to protect workers in a more comprehensive way. But they do give workers the experience of taking action and winning better working conditions.
Long-term solutions: Many solutions involve finding safer chemicals, getting new equipment such as ventilation systems or safer machines, or enclosing work processes. Safety and health professionals can help design and implement these changes, which may take time to achieve. It is important to involve workers in these long-term solutions. Their knowledge can avoid costly errors in design and installation of equipment, and their pressure can ensure that the improvements happen as quickly as possible.
By actively involving workers in solving a few problems at the factory, you can begin to engage their creativity in other areas of work as well, such as improving the way work is organized and its efficiency, and the quality of what is produced. This engagement and empowerment often carries over to making positive changes in the community as well.