Women on Guard for Occupational Health and Safety in Georgia

04.24.2022 | Anri Abuladze

In honor of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, the Center for International Private Enterprise’s Safe Business is Your Choice Awareness campaign* is highlighting areas for further improvement within Georgia’s occupational safety and health (OSH) sector. Acknowledging that Georgia has come a long way since instituting new labor regulations at the end of 2020, and the role that CIPE and the Solidarity Center’s joint program “Strengthening Labor Law Enforcement and Improving Labor Safety in Georgia” has served in this process, CIPE believes that additional developments will benefit this sector in protecting health and lives of workers. This includes increasing the private sector’s engagement in the enforcement process of OSH legislation, promoting corporate social responsibility, and fostering Georgia’s European integration.

One opportunity remaining to be addressed is increasing the number of women working in Georgia’s OSH sector to help Georgia’s private sector comply with the country’s new labor legislation. Women play a significant role in Georgia’s construction and service industries, working to raise awareness on safety standards and establish a culture of social dialogue between employers and employees. To recognize and emphasize women’s contributions, achievements, and importance in honor of this April holiday, CIPE would like to showcase the stories of two female OSH specialists.

Introducing Natia Karkuzaevi, Self-Employed Labor Safety Specialist, HS Georgia

For 15 years, Natia Karkuzaevi has been implementing occupational safety standards for several international and local construction projects. Her work is dedicated to protecting employees’ health at companies that perform high-risk and hazardous activities. Throughout her career, her experience has covered construction projects for buildings, roads, tunnels, bridges, and energy facilities.

Based on her expert knowledge acquired over years of practical experience, Natia has turned her profession into a self-employed business. She currently manages her own company, HS Georgia, which offers OSH services to companies working in relevant sectors. Additionally, Natia employs nine certified OSH specialists and provides hands-on training to those who are new to the field.

 

“For many years, very little attention was paid to occupational health and safety in Georgia. As a result, many employees suffered injuries, some resulting in fatal consequences. Such cases have motivated me to contribute to protecting human life and health,” says Natia.

Natia believes that commitments and compliance to OSH standards are essential for private sector companies, as businesses’ success, productivity, and reputation has been directly linked with employees’ health and wellbeing, according to a survey from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. She states that it is important for women to have access to programs and courses designed to educate and train the future occupational safety specialists in Georgia. In her opinion, women should try to establish networks and look for ways to improve their visibility in the sector. Natia is happy to provide guidance and advice to women who would like to become professionals in this field.

 Ketevan Sulakvelidze, Occupational Safety Specialist, Gergili LLC   

For three years, Ketevan Sulakvelidze has worked as an Occupational Safety Specialist at Gergili LLC. She became interested in this field while pursuing her master’s degree in Public Administration at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs. Ketevan wrote her master’s thesis on the topic, “Assessment of the Challenges of the Law on Occupational Safety Enforcement at the Workplace.” Currently, Ketevan is working to ensure occupational health and safety of employees in the fields including construction, heavy industry, light industry, and services.

Occupation Health and Safety became a new concept [while I was pursuing my master’s degree] in Georgia. Therefore, I became interested in this novelty. While working on my thesis, I searched for information about Georgia’s labor history and international experience and met with representatives from the private and public sectors involved in this field. Through these experiences, I became passionate about occupational safety and health and decided to pursue my career in this sector,” said Ketevan.   

She believes that the enforcement of the Law on Occupational Safety faces many challenges in Georgia, as OSH is a relatively new field in the country. In this regard, Ketevan emphasizes the lack of publicly available information and underlines the importance of raising awareness among employers and employees. Moreover, she believes that the basics of occupational health and safety must be integrated into general and higher education. For instance, in Ketevan’s opinion, teachers can use informal education techniques, such as videos and illustrations, to raise awareness for students at school. As students typically enter the labor force after they graduate from high school, they should be informed on the basics of OSH, Ketevan notes. As for higher education, Ketevan adds that OSH-related courses should be offered to undergraduate students who study in relevant faculties, such as engineering, architecture, and chemistry.

Ketevan recently delivered a public lecture on Occupational Safety and Health to the students at Ilia State University.

As she explains, occupational health and safety ensures the sustainability and success of Georgia’s private sector.

As an occupational safety specialist, I would love to see larger involvement and interest from the private sector in this field, as it is impossible to implement and successfully manage occupational safety systems unless employers and employees both provide mutual support for it.” said Ketevan.

Ketevan wishes to see an increase in the number of female representatives working in the OSH sector in Georgia. To achieve this, she believes it is essential to inform women on the opportunities that are available for them, and to find ways to provide motivation. Since the OSH specialist field has been traditionally perceived as a male profession, Ketevan emphasizes the importance for women to know that they also can pursue a career path in OSH. Ketevan has been involved in such awareness raising projects herself, as she participated in the project “Health and Safety for She (HSE FOR SHE).” This project aimed to raise awareness about OSH among women across the country, with the purpose of engaging them to pursue careers in the sector.

CIPE and the Solidarity Center wish success to every female occupational safety specialist in Georgia and efforts contributing to instituting a culture of occupational safety and effective enforcement of OSH laws throughout the country.

For more information about labor legislation and OSH in Georgia, join the Safe Business Is Your Choice Facebook group. Additionally, please subscribe to CIPE Europe & Eurasia’s regular newsletter and follow CIPE E&E on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Editorial note: The Safe Business is Your Choice social awareness campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Labor-funded “Engaging Workers and Civil Society to Strengthen Labor Law Enforcement project, implemented by the Center for International Private Enterprise and Solidarity Center. The U.S. Labor Department funding is provided under cooperative agreement number IL-32531-18-75 K, through a subaward to the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) from the Solidarity Center. 100% of the total costs of the program is financed with federal funds, for a total of $580,000. This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government.