World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021

SCORE Training adapts to help SMEs respond to the health crisis and implement occupational health and safety measures

COVID-19 has brought occupational health and safety to the forefront of the world of work. All stakeholders have had to adapt to remain safe and resilient. On this World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the importance of investing in resilient occupational safety and health (OSH) systems cannot be understated. For the SCORE programme, the years 2020 and early 2021 have been synonymous with adaptations to give SMEs the tools to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future crises.

Article | 27 April 2021
Since the emergence of the global crisis in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on most aspects of the world of work. The concerns of SMEs about safety and health in the workplace have suddenly become a priority. Difficult to anticipate, the crisis has had a major impact on all companies that were ill-prepared for the risks associated with the spread of the virus. These SMEs had to turn to governments and programmes to help them respond to the crisis.

An adaptation of the SCORE Training offer

The SCORE programme has been very responsive in adapting its training services for SMEs that find themselves at a loss in this crisis. In a survey conducted in 10 countries, 57% of the SMEs trained through SCORE Training expressed a need for advice on mitigating the risks of the spread of COVID-19 and on implementing protective measures against it. Half of the SMEs also felt they needed advice on how to be resilient in these uncertain times.

Ensuring health and safety against COVID-19: a new module to respond to the crisis

The SCORE programme has therefore developed the module - COVID-19 Safety & Health at Work - to address this need and help SMEs adopt new protocols to combat COVID-19. This new offering enables companies to implement the appropriate COVID-19 control measures and prepare themselves against the risks of a new epidemic by introducing them to the use of OSH management systems and risk assessment processes. Although specific to COVID-19, this training introduces the use of tools that will enable them to respond more effectively to the risks of a new crisis.

One example is a company in Zimbabwe that followed this module, helping them to enforce measures they were struggling to put in place. Read the case study to learn more

Building resilience: a training offer to better prepare for future crises

The second module developed by the SCORE programme to meet the needs of SMEs is on business continuity planning (BCP). Many companies have been affected by the crisis due to lockdowns and restrictions put in place by governments to contain the spread of the virus. Some companies had to rearrange their production to focus on the products that sold the most to ensure their survival. This module offers advice on how to increase sales, reduce costs, improve workforce management efficiency and improve processes. While this module is essential in the current context, its lessons are relevant for the ability of SMEs to anticipate and respond to future global and localised crises.

SCORE Training moves from face-to-face to online to ensure safety of participants

The creation of a new offer in line with the current context was essential to help companies better prepare and respond to the crisis and subsequently to better anticipate future health crises. But it was also crucial to ensure the continuity of the training offer so that SMEs could benefit from the whole SCORE Training offer to face their respective challenges. In every SCORE country, due to restrictions, online sessions were organised. Through the use and development of new tools, SCORE Training continues to provide valuable occupational health and safety (OSH) advice to all SMEs concerned with the safety of their employees. Since the emergence of the crisis in 2020, more than 260 SMEs have decided to participate in SCORE Training and over three-quarters of them have decided to follow the SCORE Training modules on OSH.

As the situation is different in each country, national programmes have adapted SCORE Training differently to enable SMEs to better respond to the COVID-19 crisis:
  • In Colombia, the SCORE programme created and implemented an online version of SCORE Training. Despite challenges related to the lack of international and national experience in delivering SME development services online, unstable internet connectivity and insufficient digital literacy among SMEs, the programme was able to expand its coverage, train and certify 27 trainers and serve 43 SMEs. This comprehensive adaptation also includes relevant new topics such as biosafety protocols and digital literacy for competitiveness. This new delivery method achieved an average satisfaction rate of 92 per cent and, for SMEs, an increase in productivity of up to 97 per cent.
  • Similarly, in Bolivia, the programme has moved its training online. It also adapted the content to merge the module on workplace cooperation and occupational health and safety, also adding instructions on prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 in the workplace. This extended module, including biosafety measures, has enabled 25 companies so far to benefit from SCORE Training to improve safety and health.

Virtualisation and awareness raising to strengthen health and safety at work

Latin America has seen the most extensive online implementation projects due to the long and severe restrictions and lockdown periods that have affected the countries, with SCORE Peru also making efforts to digitise SCORE Training. Everywhere else where SCORE Training is being implemented, there has also been a focus on occupational health and safety and the development of e-learning solutions. China was the first country to be affected by the pandemic and has led the way. The SCORE Academy has been working to move SCORE Training online. Several countries also focused on raising awareness among SMEs and the new COVID-19 Safety & Health at Work training offer. For example, in Ghana and Indonesia, webinars were held on COVID-19 and risk mitigation measures. In Vietnam, a COVID-19 risk reduction assistance programme was launched, and masks were distributed to help companies prepare for a crisis and keep COVID-19 contamination levels to a minimum. Finally, companies everywhere were trained with the new module - COVID-19 Occupational Safety and Health - as in Myanmar where 11 companies were able to implement relevant measures thanks to this training.

Investing in occupational health and safety: a necessity for SMEs

SMEs have quickly realised the importance of investing in new health and safety measures to ensure the safety of employees but also the continuity of their activities and the survival of the company. Faced with this unprecedented crisis, SMEs have learned the importance of putting employee safety at the heart of their business continuity.