Training in safety and health at work for sugar cane cutters

From January to March 2020, sugar cane cutters participated in training on cutting quality, occupational health and safety, and first aids. During the trainings, self-management of health and safety is continuously promoted. In total, 1,072 cutters participated in the “Harvest with quality” and “Occupational Safety and Health” trainings, and 462 workers attended the first aid course. The project encourages a culture of prevention with the use of personal protection equipment, the adequate use of work tools and knowing how to respond if accidents occur. Local paramedics conducted the training on first aid.

These activities were carried out with the participation of field supervisors from the sugar mills and technicians of the local sugarcane organizations (UNPCA, CNC, UDC, FIPCA, URAC), as well as local paramedics from the local health services, who carried out the training on first aid.

The occupational safety and health trainings include promoting the importance of drinking enough water during the day as part of the normal health care. In the first aid sessions, each cutting group was provided a first-aid kit with the essential materials to deal with incidents in the field. The trainings are a support to reduce the risks while the injured person is taken to a clinic or hospital. As expressed during the training it is not intended to substitute medical care.

"I appreciate the training, I already knew about first aid, since I was a soldier. It is very important that the cutters have the information and practice, so I invite my colleagues to train, since among ourselves we can support each other in the event of an accident where care is received in a hospital." -  José Alberto, sugarcane cutter.

The cutters are aware of the risks in their activities and identify the importance of having shoes or boots to the field instead of huaraches. They know they are exposed to snakes or cuts with the machete. The project team found that although the cutters are aware of the risks they don’t always use the protection equipment due to the lack of access and economic capacity to buy it.

Despite the short duration of the 2019-2020 harvest, there was good participation by the workers in the trainings. In the sessions, the participation of the cutters is promoted, generating feedback according to their own experiences and best practices in cutting techniques and first aid.

Due to the health emergency that started in March, activities in the field stopped. However, once activities are resumed, the training corresponding to the sugarcane production cycle will be resumed and will be aimed at producers.