New Solutions: Health and Safety for Informal Workers

New Solutions Journal - Special Issue on Health and Safety for Informal Workers

New Solutions:
August 2016 Issue on
Health and Safety for Informal Workers

In 2016, New Solutions - a journal of occupational health with a progressive, worker-oriented focus - dedicated an entire special issue to examining health and safety for informal workers.  

Mainstream occupational health and safety does not easily cover informal workers or their workplaces. Globally, millions of workers, such as street traders, work in public spaces; others work in private homes, such as home-based workers/industrial outworkers. Different types of work carry different risks and hazards; challenges are posed to mainstream occupation health and safety, as well as to the institutions of local government.

The August 2016 issue of New Solutions shows the diversity within the informal economy and outlines barriers to informal workers getting improved working environments. But it also demonstrates what can be done, and indeed what has been done in a number of innovative interventions in different occupations. Many of these efforts were spearheaded by organizations of informal workers, sometimes with the active assistance of a formal trade union or union federation. Some of them required collaboration with municipal authorities – who themselves may have a bias against informal workers, or blindness to workers’ particular lived experiences. Change has to take place at both the local and national levels of policy influence and intervention.

WIEGO's Francie Lund was the editor of this issue, along with Rajen Naidoo. Read their Introduction: The Changed World of Work.

New Solutions articles by WIEGO team members and affiliates:

  • Lund, F, Alfers, L and Santana, V. “Towards an inclusive occupational health for informal workers.”
  • Alfers, L, Xulu, P, Dobson, R and Hariparsad, S. “Extending OHS to street vendors in urban public space: reflections from Durban, South Africa.”
  • Chen, Martha. “The informal economy: recent trends, future directions.”
  • Tsoutouras, Demetria and Francie Lund. “Extending Health and Safety to Informal Workers: A Photo Essay.”
  • Chikarmane, P. “Public Space, Public Waste & The Right to the City.”

Thanks to Sage Publications and New Solutions for offering free access to all the articles in the August 2016 special issue until October 2016.

Access to health insurance for women headload porters in Accra, Ghana

Additional Resources


Photos: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images Reportage

Alfers L. The Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme: Barriers to Access for Informal Workers. WIEGO Working Paper (Social Protection) No. 30. Cambridge, MA, USA: WIEGO; 2013.

Be safe with us: first aid stands in Durban, South Africa

Additional Resources

Alfers L, Dobson R, Xulu P. Facilitating workplace health and safety in urban public space: reflections from Durban, South Africa. Environment and Urbanization. Forthcoming 2016.

Visit the Asiye eTafuleni website.

Hear from Informal workers in Ahmedabad, Bangkok and Durban about their experinces in accessing health services. A shorter version Informal Workers’ Access to Healthcare (12 minutes) is also available.

Skill upgrading: better incomes, safer work places in Ahmedabad, India

Additional Resources

Visit the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) website.
Visit the Mahila Housing Trust website.

Making bronzeware in a small informal factory in Bangkok, Thailand

Additional Resources

Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage
photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage

 

photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage
photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images Reportage

Visit the HomeNet Thailand website.

Waste pickers and communications technology, Bogota, Colombia

Additional Resource

Visit the Asociación de Recicladores de Bogotá (ARB) website.

Child care in a worker-owned garment factory in Bangkok, Thailand

Additional Resources

Visit the HomeNet Thailand website.

Visit the Dignity Returns website.