Overcoming barriers to improving OHS among SMEs in Myanmar


Start date: 1 February, 2020 End date: 30 April, 2024 Project type: Research projects in countries with targeted development cooperation (earlier Window 2) Project code: 19-M08-SDU Countries: Myanmar Thematic areas: Production, industry and labour market, Lead institution: University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Denmark Partner institutions: Yangon Technological University (YTU), Myanmar Aalborg University (AAU), Denmark Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Jan Vang Brambini-Pedersen Total grant: 4,999,946 DKK

Project summary

In the wake of the Rana Plaza accident the recent years have witnessed increased interests among scholars, global brands, policy-makers and NGOs in occupational health and safety (OHS) among companies in developing countries (Huq et al 2016). However, the focus has been on the larger companies located in developing countries (Villena and Gioia 2018), which are suppliers to global firms and have knowledge sources that can assist in improving OHS (Distelhorst et al, 2017, Bari & Gereffi 2001). Scholars are not optimistic about improvements of OHS in SMEs, especially not countries existing in institutional voids as Myanmar. The overarching purpose of the project is therefore to create new knowledge about how and why intervention-based OHS knowledge is disseminated and used successfully in an industrial cluster. The project thereby contributes to the academic field by being the first to analyze drivers and barriers to OHS-productivity dissemination in clusters in a developing country. The project also contributes to building capacity among central labor market organizations.


Midterm report
Efficient and Sustainable Apparel Myanmar (ESAM) is a research project combining interventions and derived cluster effects concerning integrating productivity measures and OHS. The project introduces Lean interventions and assesses their clustering effects; due to the military coup, the focus has been more on the interventions than on the clustering effects.
In 2022, interventions were carried out in 12 garment factories employing around 6000 workers, 89 percent female.

The team also conducted a two-day online dissemination workshop on 5S, other lean manufacturing concepts, and ergonomics awareness with trainers from Myanmar Garment Human Resource Development Center (MGHRDC) and staff from MGMA.
Based on observations during the factory interventions, the ESAM team developed survey questionnaires for workers and 5S members, conducting pilot tests subsequently. In 2022, survey interviews with about 300 production line workers and over 30 mid-level management individuals have been carried out, and more respondents will be interviewed in early 2023.
Zar Ni joined a two-day tripartite regional workshop organized by the ILO and shared the ESAM project implementation experiences.
The data collection strategy for the clustering effect was redesigned and implemented in the survey.

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