Improving OSH in the coffee supply chain in Latin America

The International Labour Organization (ILO) seeks to reduce work-related illnesses and accidents in global value chains to promote decent work. In this initiative, through the Vision Zero Fund, and with the financial contribution of the European Commission, it is intended to achieve this objective in the coffee value chains in Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras and in other Latin American countries.

  1. Latin America is a large source of coffee production globally. Colombia, Mexico and Honduras are among the ten leading coffee producers and exporters in the world. However, there is a wide range of risks for farmers and workers when producing coffee. Farmers are often unaware of the OSH risks and lack the knowledge to prevent and mitigate work-related illnesses and accidents.

    Besides impacting on the safety and health of workers, OSH risks also impact business profitability as more consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the social and environmental conditions of coffee production.

Coffee supply chain

Coffee farmers and workers face many occupational hazards in producing coffee. Picking the coffee beans creates the greatest risk with the most common injuries being knocks and osteomuscular injuries and wounds from falls. The objective of the VZF in this region is to identify the constraints that are preventing OSH compliance in these supply chains, find solutions with public and private partners, and ensure these solutions are sustainable and improve OSH across this supply chain.


The VZF targeted its interventions towards promoting exchange and collaboration between national institutions in Colombia, Mexico and Honduras. There were vertical and horizontal exchanges of knowledge about best OSH practices in the coffee supply chain. Stakeholders and other key players were informed of the OSH issues in this industry and how to improve interventions based on lessons learned from other countries and programmes. As a result of these efforts, the coffee supply chain in Latin America has seen improved OSH conditions at both company and institutional level.


  • Identified drivers and constraints for OSH compliance
  • Created training programmes and innovative tools to prevent work-related accidents
  • Improved social dialogue at the national, regional and global level
  • Pilot implementations to improve OSH at sectoral and enterprise level
  1. Among global agricultural value chains, coffee is of particular importance and deserves special attention in terms of occupational safety and health (OSH). 80% of the coffee produced in the world is traded internationally with, more and more, product differentiation and a higher level of consumption integrated into global value chains.

COVID-19 response

In Mexico, the VZF developed a set of guidelines for the agricultural sector which was distributed throughout the region. Similarly, the VZF also created guidelines in Honduras and Mexico on the prevention of COVID-19 infection in each stage of the agriculture and coffee supply chains. The VZF provided online training on this to the Honduran council of private companies, and in Mexico and Colombia were developed other online courses on the same issue. These tools are being adapted for the forthcoming global toolkit on OSH in the coffee supply chain.