The leather industry is an important economic sector for the Bangladeshi economy. Approximately 2.5% of export earnings were generated through leather products in the fiscal year 2018-2019, and around 850,000 people were directly or indirectly employed in the leather industry in the same period. As the third largest export industry, the leather sector holds a key position in the national diversification strategy.
In this context the German BMZ-funded GIZ-Programme “Good Working Conditions in Tanneries” strengthens the framework conditions for occupational health and safety (OHS), including chemical safety, in tanneries. It promotes the cooperation of public and private actors by strengthening capacities in the inspection system on the one hand. On the other hand it supports intermediary organisations in the education and training sector striving at improving competences in tanneries with regard to national and international guidelines on OHS. The political partner is the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
ICON together with its strategic partner GSM is implementing two components within the framework of this programme:
1. Training and Advisory Services for Tanneries: The project applies a market systems development approach for training and advisory services in order to improve the OHS compliance in tanneries in selected regions of Bangladesh. The approach aligns training and advisory services to incentives and capacity aiming at accelerating OHS in the tanning sector. It builds local capacity of training and advisory services providers, promotes local ownership, and catalyses market-forces that can promote long-term economic development. Factual improvement in OHS practices in tanneries and the motivation of tanneries to invest in OHS will be the result of combining OHS demand development, training, and advisory services.
2. University Training in OHS in Leather Production: The project improves university education on OHS in leather production in order to strengthen the institutional framework conditions for an improved compliance with OHS in tanneries. Relevant curricula are integrated, or existing curricula are revised on an academic level taking into consideration international standards. Concepts for adult training methods and ToT workshops for the OHS curriculum are developed and implemented. Promoting the dialogue between academia and industry, striving at bringing the key stakeholders from private sector, civil society organisations and governmental departments together in order to improve health and safety at work is also a part of ICON’s scope of activities. The dialogue enables trust-building, bridging gaps and providing the basis for a joint problem analysis and the identification of concrete activities contributing to improved occupational OHS conditions in the tannery sector.
These are just some of the many measures to be taken in order to improve the working environment at the tanneries in Bangladesh creating a safer, healthier and more conducive environment for workers meeting international standards.