Fourteen UNHCR staff members from DRC, Iraq, Ghana, Kenya, Lebanon, Tanzania and Staff Health and Welfare Service (SHWS) in HQ participated in the 10th DPKO/DFS and UNHCR Field Occupational Safety Training Course. The 5-day course in Brindisi is undertaken annually by DPKO/DFS missions. This year UNHCR staff participated in the training to evaluate whether this course would be suitable to use for the agency’s occupational health and environmental safety (OHS) focal points in the field.

The course was primarily an instructor-led training with theoretical presentations, case studies, and on-site risk assessment exercises. Incident scenario simulations were done with the involvement of GSC Security & Safety Unit Fire Safety Hazmat personnel which gave the exercises a high degree of realism and was better appreciated by participants.

The participants completed the course with enhanced awareness of occupational safety and health, especially in terms of hazard identification and risk controls. They also had improved capacity to carry out risk assessments and competency to provide direct support/guidance to operations in the field on occupational safety & health risk management.

Feedback from UNHCR participants indicate that the training content was good and the practical exercises very useful. Although the coverage of the course was too general and some of the highlighted risks were not relevant to UNHCR workplace settings, it was a good introduction to occupational health and environmental safety. As a result of training, the UNHCR participants will be working with Staff Health and Welfare Service (SHWS) as OSH focal points in their respective duty stations.

Photo: © Dr. Kristen Atonson