Improving health and safety in Indian tea supply chains

My colleague Ranjan and I recently spent a few days on a tea estate in Assam with two of them dedicated to training 25 deputy and assistant estate managers on Occupational Health & Safety (OHS).

This trip was particularly special for me as it was my first time on a tea estate. Having joined Ranjan Circar (Regional Manager, India) in Kolkata recently from working for ETP in London, he felt that I should accompany the training team to Assam to experience estate life first hand. This would give me a better understanding of the situation on the ground and the depth of ETP’s work.

The OHS workshop was organised at the request of APPL (Amalgamated Plantations Pvt. Ltd), one of the largest tea producers in Assam. Normally such workshops are attended by personnel from a range of different companies and estates, however at APPL’s suggestion this one was tailored for their company to ensure that awareness & knowledge on OH & S filtered through the hierarchy of the estates spread over Assam & North Bengal.

While the approach over the two days used many interactive tools (quizzes, games and role-play) to keep the participants engaged, the agendas for each differed markedly. The first day focused on identifying the risks and hazards in tea industry and the specific health and safety risks that the group face at their own sites.

The second day was a ‘train the trainer’ session, and built on the OHS skills learnt the previous day. The aim was to ‘arm’ the APPL management staff with the skills of a trainer so that they’d be confident conducting in-house training at their own estates, thereby raising OHS standards across all the estates.

As the second day wrapped up I had a chance to chat to some of the managers about both days of training. The unanimous response was that it had not felt like hard work because they had enjoyed themselves and learnt so much from Saikat (our training consultant from Verde consultancy) and the ETP team, as well as each other. They were also feeling more confident and at ease about conducting training with workers at their own estates.

Ranjan, Saikat and I left Assam feeling good about a job well done and confident that company focussed training had worked well. I am very much looking forward to the coming months in Kolkata not only to conduct more training workshops but also for a chance to interact with and support the people who are instrumental in producing my daily cuppa!

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