Occupational safety and health in Myanmar Global Supply Chains – A Vision Zero Fund Project - Phase II

The Vision Zero Fund (VZF) Myanmar project strives to realize the goal of zero work-related fatalities and severe injuries and diseases, by improving occupational safety and health practices and conditions in the garment and ginger supply chains.

Background – VZF Phase I

The mandate of the Vision Zero Fund (VZF) initiative is “preventing and reducing workplace-related deaths and serious injuries by strengthening public frameworks and establishing sustainable business practices”. In Myanmar, the VZF has implemented activities since May 2017, and included comprehensive assessments of occupational safety and health (OSH) drivers and constrains in the ginger and garments global supply chains (GSCs). 

The project focuses on establishing partnerships with government, workers, and employers organizations at the national and local levels to ensure the sustainability of project results.

Phase I of the VZF project has highlighted several lessons that are relevant to address some of the remaining gaps of Myanmar’s OSH system. There is a need of urgent support to the government in the development of the legal framework to operationalize the OSH Law through the enactment of enabling regulations. In addition, there is a need to continue to support the development of OSH services among workers and employers organizations, as well as in the private sector. VZF’s lessons gathered from its work in both ginger and garment have the potential to be replicated in other manufacturing and agricultural sub-sectors, consolidating results and ensuring their sustainability. Lastly, support to achieving OSH improvements in construction was also identified as an area where VZF support would be valuable.

Key achievements VZF Phase I (2017-2020)

  • 1545, ginger farmers, 40% women, trained on OSH, Gender and Cooperatives in seven township in Shan State through project partners.
  • 252 garment workers and managers participated in OSH trainings and awareness raising activities in Yangon
  • 198,000 workers in tow townships in Yangon and Mandalay have access to enhanced employment injury insurance; 141,000 are estimated to be garment workers, 90% of which are women.
  • 4,000 OSH pamphlets, 250 OSH posters, and 18,000 social security pamphlets have been distributed to the National OSH training Center, trade unions and workers organizations
  • The National OSH Training Centre has started functioning guided by a business plan facilitated through a tripartite discussion
  • Two studies of drivers and constraints for OSH in ginger and garments published
  • Strengthened tripartite dialogue on OSH and social security

Objectives and expected outcomes of Phase II

The main objective of the project is reduced exposure of female and male workers to OSH hazards at the workplace in the ginger, garment, and construction sectors in Myanmar. This is pursued through three main outcomes:
  1. Strengthened global, regional and national enabling environments for the promotion of safe and healthy working conditions in garment, ginger and construction in Myanmar
  2. Improved legal, policy and implementation frameworks in Myanmar to promote and enforce OSH protection, prevention and compensation in garment, ginger, and construction
  3. Increased application of effective OSH prevention, protection and compensation mechanisms for women and men working in targeted GSCs

Planned activities and project partners 

The project’s second phase will include an additional GSC, construction, and will consolidate and expand activities in ginger and garments. The project will contribute to the enactment and implementation of the new OSH Law through its work on institutional strengthening and key activities in GSCs.

On the enactment and implementation of the OSH Law, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population is the primary partner. The project works closely with the Factories and General Labour Laws Inspection Department on the support to enact the OSH Law and strengthen the inspection system. Workers and employers organizations are also key partners as members of the upcoming OSH Council.

The project also works with the Social Security Board to continue to expand the delivery of enhanced EII benefits and increase awareness and access to social security.

The Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar, the Myanmar Industries, Crafts and Services Trade Union Federation, and the Agriculture and Farmers Federation of Myanmar will continue to be project partners during Phase II on all topics related to the OSH Law, social security and sectorial trainings and awareness raising. The Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry and its affiliates such as the Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Association and the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association remain key project partners. Institutional strengthening of these organizations’ OSH and social security functions is a key priority of VZF Phase II.

Brands and private sector actors such as H&M, a key partner of VZF in Phase I, will continue to play an important role in Phase II’s engagement in the garment sector.

Other project partners in the ginger work include the Department of Agriculture (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation), UNIDO, Shwe Kambawza, DGRV, Snacks Mandalay, and Shwe Gin Sein farmer group, among others.