Nepal’s largest auto workshop supported for safe operation during COVID-19

When the lockdown imposed in Nepal was eased business industries started resuming their work, but the risk was equally high.  Staying safe at the workplace demands more specific measures. ENSSURE Project has initiated the possible interventions to raise awareness about a safe workplace amidst the spread of contagious disease with the business industries. The biggest auto workshop area in the country, Auto Village in Butwal, was also struggling to open for operation for fear of safety for the workers and the customers. The Auto village is comprised of around 800 auto workshops and is in the major highway, East-West Highway, that links the country from the east to the west. Since trained mechanics from India and other highly skilled mechanics provide their service in this village, there is the traffic of vehicles coming for repair and maintenance every few minutes. With the volume of business and diverseness of customers, the place was at high risk if proper safety measures were not put in place.

In this regards, Enhanced Skills for Sustainable and Rewarding Employment (ENSSURE), a bilateral initiative of the Governments of Nepal and Switzerland, with technical support from Helvetas and implemented by Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT), is collaborating with Business/Industry Associations to improve the safety situation at their member companies in COVID context.

Workshop owners and representatives of the Butwal Auto Engineering Association participated in two workshops regarding occupational health safety in the COVID-19 situation, organized by ENSSURE. They learned how to keep the workplace safe for workers and customers. They also learned how to prepare sanitizing spray for the vehicles. They started using the spray on every vehicle that would enter the premises. In addition, in the initiative of the Butwal Auto Engineering Association, ENSSURE Project also provided support of some safety equipment on August 10th, 2020. The objective was to provide a safe work environment and to encourage auto industry owners to follow all the safety precautions at the workplace.

“Earlier, we would have to go to a nearby hotel to ask to use water to wash hands, they would ask us to keep distance because of COVID-19, however with the foot-operated hand washing stations, it is now easy to for us to wash hands and also ask the customers to wash their hands. We have customers and vehicles coming from different places so we had to take measures like using spray sanitizer so that it would be safe to operate during this COVID-19 period. We also have a no mask, no entry system.” - Raju Thapa, mechanic, and owner if Raju Auto workshop.

Four foot-operated hand washing stations were installed – one each at the front and back gate and two in the middle. Two hoarding boards informing about safety measures to be followed by all including customers have also been placed on the premises. The Butwal Auto Engineering Association has expressed its commitment to ensuring that safety precautions are followed by the workshops here.

“While Nepal Government partially lifted the lockdown, we were thinking about the safety precaution of all our Auto village area where more than 800 workshops and high flow of vehicles from all over Nepal. Due to this, there is a high risk for us. We planned to spray the vehicles before entering our area, but we did not have much idea on how to prepare the spray. At the same time, ENSSURE organized two rounds of webinars on the ‘Safer workplace in COVID-19 Situation’ with us. From that time, we got more ideas and have been smoothly running vehicle disinfection. Support from ENSSURE means a lot to us. We have circulated a message to all our members workshop to strictly follow safety precautions. Gradually we will monitor them.” - Babulal Pandey, Chairman of Butwal Auto Engineering Association.