Drive for legal timber boosts worker safety in Ghana
Across Ghana, workers who cut down trees in forests, move timber from the forest to factories or process wood into finished goods can expect these and other improvements in the coming months. That’s because, as Ghana implements new systems for ensuring the legality of its timber and timber products, a spotlight is shining on worker safety like never before.
“They have started requiring us to report every accident that occurs, no matter how small it may appear,” says Richard Aryeh, of his employers at Ejura Timbers in Ghana’s Ashanti Region, where he operates a powerful mechanised saw that cuts planks from huge pieces of timber. “They have provided us with some safety materials to work with and it has helped us to work well. It has also reduced injury cases.”
Training is now spreading across the country. It is being driven by the government’s push to ensure its timber products have been harvested, transported, processed and traded legally, and by Ghanaian civil society’s insistence that ensuring worker safety is a key aspect of complying with the law. These visions have come together in a Voluntary Partnership Agreement between Ghana and the EU, under which timber products will not be considered legal unless companies protect their employees.