Increased OH&S for Factories in Mae Sot

Increased OH&S for Factories in Mae Sot

Khaow is a human resource supervisor at one of the many garment factories in Mae Sot, Thailand.

Khaow is a human resource supervisor at one of the many garment factories in Mae Sot, Thailand. Like many factories in the area, they make garments of all kinds. The factory is currently about two years old, and subcontracts to a larger corporation in Bangkok; which then ships to the international market. The majority of workers, aside from senior management, are Burmese migrant workers from Myanmar. As such, they are not entitled to the same level of standards that companies with Thai workers need to uphold. Living and working conditions for migrant workers has been a longstanding issue, with many workers living without basic necessities and working in unsafe conditions. Workers often resort to illegal measures to come to Thailand and work as they cannot afford to do it legally.

Khaow next to his Strategy House

Photograph by Brittanie McLean

Khaow has been with the factory since its inception, and has recognised the need for better Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) standards to be put in place. When asked about current concerns for safety, Khaow mentioned that the dormitories are in the same building as the factory. Should a fire or other emergency break out in the building it could jeopardise the workers living there. He previously proposed something to be done about the situation but they are only renting the building. They are also in the process of securing another factory location; so no renovations will be considered at this point. However, upon securing the new location, it may be possible to reassess the situation.

As human resource supervisor, Khaow gets a lot of facetime with the migrant workers, and so often hears their stories and what it is like for them working in the factory. Everything gets filtered to him unless it concerns production, which heads to a different department. It is obvious that they need to make changes to the way the company is operating, but with limited resources and a quota to fill, it takes a helping hand.

ADRA Thailand has been operating a project run by the EU in Mae Sot targeting the safety and health of migrant worker factories. This project is referred to as the Enhanced Capacities for Migrant Advocacy project (ECMA) and seeks to create better conditions for workers and employers. In this project, the ‘happy factory model’ was introduced, with 20 factories agreeing to take part; Khaows company included. The ECMA team has since run several safety officer trainings for factories, which have been revealed to already be yielding results. “I learned how to be involved in safety in my factory”. As a direct result of this training, Khaow has placed fire extinguishers throughout the entire factory, as well as fire exits and signs; they also have safety warning signs on the walls. This is already a significant improvement in emergency preparedness and general OHS standards.                                                                                                                                                                                                             


The project has also conducted workshops on capacity building and organisational management for factory owners; which has introduced new concepts and strategies (such as the strategy house) for factories which Khaow states is “very useful and relevant. I will apply to my work”.

Soon the project will host more firefighting workshops with local fire brigades as part of this initiative, which Khaow is looking forward to, “We would like to see more firefighting training, this is a real issue for us”. Khaow has also made some progress with hygiene standards in the factory. Unlike safety, it is sometimes difficult for people to correlate the importance of best hygiene practices in the workplace with personal health, so it will take some time to get everyone on board with tackling this issue. For now, he has been putting up hygiene and sanitation signs around the building to promote the issue, and has started discussing further improvements with migrant employees.

It is a slow process and Khaow recognises that their factory is not 100% at the happy safe factory model yet, but everything he is learning will continue to push forward with improving standards. He suggests that ADRA hire experts to continue providing first aid training, firefighting workshops and other practical initiatives to continue building capacity in migrant worker factories as it is “a benefit to all of us”.

ECMA Capacity Building Workshop

ECMA Capacity Building Workshop

ADRA Thailand’s ECMA project team and Positive Deviant Consulting Firm conducted a five day workshop to build the capacity of ADRA/ECMA staff  and CSO/CBO sub-grant partners on Organizational Development on 21-25 November 2015.

Mr Antonio Belgrave led out on the two and half day Training of Trainers (TOT) for ECMA staff on 21-23 November and assisted ECMA staff as they led the next 2 days training  for CSO/CBO from 7 organizations  on 23-25 November 2016.

For the 21-23 November 2016, the  TOT Workshop  for ADRA Thailand/ECMA staff focused on strategy developing, problems solving, implementation skills and stakeholder management.   In developing strategy, the trainer led  development of a strategy base which is very useful for organizations to give them a bigger picture of their teams responses. The problem solving techniques introduced the principle of problems solving,  allowing participants to think of what the root causes of  problems are and follow up with the defining their problems statement and desired states.  Other analytical techniques included fish bone, 5 whys, and arrow go most and less, impact and effort matrix and iceberg, which were were introduced and practiced.  The spirits of this session encouraged the participant to think about root causes problems and how to solve them effectively with full engagement of team members. The implementation planning skills were introduced as a second step when the team had a clear understanding of their problem,  its root causes and solutions. The trainers  demonstrated planning skills, set up their respective milestones and had to detail the activities necessary to reach each milestone. The 5 tools of coms cell werepracticed nicely in the sessions.



Antonio providing feedback for strategic housing.

In the last session with ECMA team, the trainer went through stakeholder management. In this session, the trainer explained the stakeholder analysis matrix to guide the necessity of having a clear analysis of power over interest each stakeholder  has . The project /organization should then design different approaches with each group.

The 2 and half day TOT went smooth  and was rich with information, ECMA and ADRA Thailand staff were inspired to implement tools and skills in the ECMA project and provide coaching to project partners in the implementation.    


Partners practicing drawing their strategy house

On 23-25 November, 2016, Organizational Development Capability Building Workshop for 7 CSO/CBO partners

Mr Antonio Belgrave and ECMA staff conducted a 2 days’ workshop for 7 CSO/CBO organizations.  The workshop covered  4 key  topics  which analysed  the OD assessment tools   sent  to the organizations before the workshop. The 4 topics were:  improving organization direction, CSO efficiency (GEMBA), Better problems solving and impact for change leadership.

In the first session, Antonio Belgrave explained the overall purpose of the ECMA capacity building workshop. The introduction began with strategy developing which mainly focused on building strategic housing. Each partner built their own strategy house based on their organization vision, mission, and strategy and measure success. The workshop schedule followed up with problem solving in the second day and implementation skill and stakeholder management on third day of the workshop. Finally the trainer encouraged each participant to write 3 commitments they want to achieve in the next 2 weeks. The postcards were collected by ECMA staff and post to all participants in the following 2 weeks.  The ECMA staff raised their thanks and appreciation to all participants for making the workshop a success and more meaningful, they also committed their additional support to develop personal and organizational skill levels in OD throughout the projects duration and beyond.  The trainer concluded the workshop with high appreciation for full participation of all participants and encouraged all participants to continue to practice all tools and share their skills their team members. Antonio ended the session with  a famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi which says “Be the change you want to see in the world” to encourage the participants to think positive and reflect the changes that they wished to see.