Katie Eilert, intern
It’s not every day that the Global Mamas staff gets to practice wielding a fire extinguisher! Quality Control workers and Mamas gathered at the Cape Coast office for safety equipment training that included a presentation by the Ghana National Fire Service. The informative training was held as part of the World Fair Trade Organization’s biennial auditing process, and it supplied Mamas with the safety tools necessary to protect their health while working.
The WFTO auditing process ensures that Global Mamas and its producers are in compliance with the fair trade principles embedded in our mission. The safety training especially emphasized the 8th principle of fair trade, which focuses on providing good working conditions for employees and ensuring their wellbeing. Carrying out our aggressive plan to improve our workplace safety, both in-house and with the Mamas, would not have been possible without the generous support of n. dowuona & Co.
We regularly supply our staff and the craftswomen with protective gear and encourage its use, but as part of the training we did another thorough dispersal of gear. Batikers received face shields and goggles (in addition to the gloves we already provide). Although the dye that adorns the fabric with beautiful swirls and shapes is safe in its final form, it isn’t ideal to breathe the fumes every single day in its raw form. Rubber boots also protect their legs from stray wax splatters, which can burn skin.
Overall, Cape Coast manager Patience Treve said she feels extremely proud that the Mamas understand the safety equipment’s critical benefits and use it consistently while they work. Every so often, she pays impromptu visits to the women’s workshops to ensure that they are actually utilizing their new masks, boots, and gloves, and she has been impressed with just how many are making their health a priority.
“The Mamas, they really love it,” she says, and some have remarked on how it has positively impacted their work. Even when Ghana’s rainy season brought flooding to her home and workspace, batiker Agnes Cole Ada was able to weather the harsh elements with the help of her rubber safety boots. She could still continue her work and meet all of her deadlines on time.
The training gave Patience herself a hands-on look at safety at the office as well. After filling a bowl with fuel and lighting it outside, she was handed a fire extinguisher and quickly learned how to use it to put out the flames. The demonstration provided not only valuable tips and proactive resources, but also quite a bit of fun and excitement for the day!
As for the WFTO audit process, the next step will be implementing and sending to auditors a weekly checklist on office supplies that are out-of-date or in need of replacement. Auditing is just one way that Global Mamas stays true to our mission of fair trade in action. It also allows managers, Quality Control staff, and Mamas alike to stay in the loop on the important principles of fair trade and workplace safety — in the loop, but out of harm’s way.