Occupational Safety and Health in brick kilns of Nepal

Thursday 29 March 2018

Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE) on 22 January 2018 approved the national directive on Occupational Safety and Health in brick kilns of Nepal. Save the Children worked closely with Department of Labor to draft the guideline three years ago. The guideline will be instrumental in mitigation and control of occupational and health hazards in brick factories. Most importantly, it will ensure well-being of children of parents living and working there.

Brief on directive of OSH standard of brick kilns

Most of the processes involved in making bricks in Nepal present risks, possibly affecting workers’ health. The dust of high free silica, heat stress and long working hours (12 to 14 hours) a day affect the health as well as efficiency of workers. Since the families that work in brick factories bring their families along, children face various risks as well. There have been few incidences of children drowning in open water ponds and injuries at the kilns and most importantly, they are at direct risk of becoming workers, exposing them to other risks.

Save the Children with the aim of addressing the above issues through an integrated approach combining prevention, response and policy change worked closely with Department of Labor and Ministry of Labor and Employment (MoLE) so that children and families can work and live in a safe environment.

To develop the standards Save the Children consulted with children, employers and NGOs working in child labor eradication in Nepal.

The directive covers facility related provisions like drinking water, shelter, relaxation room, first aid, day care center, toilets or bathrooms, canteen, education and working hours. Meanwhile, it also mentions safety and health related provisions like equipment safety, securing open water ponds, compensation for injury, personal protection equipment, health check-up, OSH awareness an and monitoring committee formation.

The provisions that directly benefit children and ensure their protection in the OSH directive are:

  • Employers take initiation to send children to nearby school, who are living inside brick kiln premises with their parents
  • All workers and families be provided sufficient drinkable water to meet their daily needs
  • Unaccompanied adolescent boys and girls will be protected with the provision of separate accommodation with adequate safety, privacy and security
  • Separate, clean toilets and bath room for girls and boys inside brick kilns
  • Regular health checkup provision for employer and their families
  • Provision of day care center with competent care giver, including some necessary toys, safe drinking water and child friendly toilets nearby
  • Dust level should not exceed 10 mg/m3 in any working places and not exceed 2 mg/m3 in canteen, shelter and rest room
  • Ponds should be fenced with proper hazard signs or refilled with sand or other material to prevent accidents.
  • Formation of Safety Committee which is responsible for recommending employers on OSH awareness activities, support children and employee who faced accident, and use of children in brick kilns.