Rustam, an interactive cartoon character is disseminating knowledge among factory workers and manufacturers regarding safety, occupational hazards and good practices in the workplace in order to reduce hazards. With the support from the Bangladesh Furniture Industries Owners Association (BAFIOA), Bogra Zila Furniture Shilpa Malik Samity (BZFSMS), Bolirhat Furniture Baboshai and Nirmata Somobay Samity (BFBNSS), Katalyst, through its co-facilitator Innovision, facilitated this initiative during September – November 2011 in Dhaka, Chittagong, Jessore and Bogra.
The social compliance standard among the furniture SMEs in Bangladesh is inadequate. The manufacturers are not fully aware of the occupational hazards and operational safety at the workplace which results in accidents, absenteeism and de-motivation among them. In addition, their lack of knowledge on standard workplace behavior also causes excess fatigue, personal injuries and decreases productivity and quality of the products. The lack of overall compliance of standard production practices among the local furniture manufacturers causes loss of competitiveness in the export market.
Rustom visited the manufacturers, workers and carpentry household clusters in Badda & Sutrapur of Dhaka, Bolir Hut, Askar Dighir Paar & Dewan Bazaar,of Chittagong, Jessore and Bogra. Road shows were arranged to disseminate messages verbally as well as through posters and flyers. The road shows also organized quizzes to assess the level understanding of understanding among manufacturers, workers and households of the information disseminated.
57 road shows were arranged covering around 1,448 factory owners and workers. Around 694 furniture factories and 3,756 carpentry households were also visited. Workers were excited to see this interactive character, which represented them and listened to his messages attentively.