Changing the landscape: Ensuring safe working conditions on farms

19 Dec 2019 · 3 min read
A look at PMI’s ongoing commitment to ensure farmers and workers throughout its supply chain work in safe conditions
A white van in a field of tobacco plants.

It is not an unusual sight to see a white transit van marked “+Campo” parked near a tobacco farm from which Philip Morris International (PMI) sources its tobacco. In fact, it has become a regular sight for farmers and workers as Philip Morris Brazil’s (PMB) mobile farming community training program visits them in their fields.

The van is specially equipped with tools and media to help deliver practical demonstrations and training sessions to farmers, their family members, and workers on site. The sessions are delivered to groups of up to 20, with the content designed to raise awareness on the most significant issues identified by field technicians through their farm-to-farm monitoring.

By the end of 2019, the training will have reached 5,357 contracted farmers in Brazil, ensuring all farmers were aware of the importance of appropriate safety measures, such as the adequate use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Ensuring safety on contracted tobacco farms

When PMI established its Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) program in 2011, ensuring safe working conditions for both farmers and workers on its contracted farms was identified as a key priority. It formed one of the ALP code’s seven principles, which also covered no child labor; correct income and work hours; fair treatment; no forced labor and human trafficking; right to freedom of association; and terms of employment complying to the laws of the country. Under each principle are measurable standards to be monitored, totaling 33.

To prevent accidents and injury, and also minimize potential health risks, one of the measurable standards under the safe work environment principle is the availability and usage of PPE’s for the application of crop protection agents (CPA) and the prevention of green tobacco sickness (GTS). PMI committed to ensuring that by 2020, all workers on farms it sources its tobacco from would have access to appropriate PPE for CPA application and GTS prevention.

In 2018, there were over 350,000 farms contracted by PMI and its suppliers, stretching across 27 countries and taking in over 644,000 workers. And so far in 2019, the company has provided over 375,000 PPE’s for CPA, and over 900,000 PPE’s for GTS. 

It illustrates the company’s ongoing commitment, as it sees PPE availability as a key step to ensuring a safe working environment. And as it continues to work towards its target amidst its transformation, the continued safety of farmers and workers that operate on the farms in its supply chain will continue to be a central focus.

Our status in 2019:

PPE for CPA provided: More than 375,000
PPE for GTS provided: More than 900,000
Total number of prompt actions reported in 2019 to date: 339*

  • 54 related to PPE for CPA
  • 285 related to PPE for GTS

*These prompt actions were reported by field technicians during farm-by-farm monitoring when they observed that farmers and workers had no access to required PPE. These prompt actions are not the complete prompt actions for the year as the final data for 2019 has not yet been received for all markets. For more details, see page 67 of our Sustainability Report 2018.