Gemstone safety push to clean up Jaipur

RESEARCHERS from the University of Queensland’s Sustainable Minerals Institute are helping to make India’s gemstone industry a little safer for workers with a couple of educational videos highlighting the safety risks of working in gemstone workshops in the city of Jaipur.
Gemstone safety push to clean up Jaipur Gemstone safety push to clean up Jaipur Gemstone safety push to clean up Jaipur Gemstone safety push to clean up Jaipur Gemstone safety push to clean up Jaipur

Jaipur's gemstone workshops are dusty and noisy places

Associate Professor Carmel Bofinger and researcher Lynda Lawson spent two weeks in Jaipur, one of the world's largest gemstones centre, looking at the risks involved for workers tasked with cutting and polishing the stones.

Initiated by the Tiffany and Co Foundation-funded Gemstones and Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub, the women are working in collaboration with the University of Delaware, the American Gem Traders Association and Workplace Health and Safety without Borders.

Lawson's efforts follow on from her recent time in Madagascar where she developed a basic field gemmology course for women mining the country's sapphire fields, to improve their independence and financial autonomy by giving them opportunities to add value to the stones they find.

The women visited eight workshops while a local colleague visited 61 workplaces, to canvass 668 workers and get a comprehensive look at the key risks first-hand.

According to Bofinger and Lawson, the management of dust and noise was the main concern for the workers.

Bofinger said the findings from the visits resulted in the production of two videos focusing on dust and noise.

She said the videos were narrated in English and Hindi by Vigya Sharma, who is a research fellow at UQ's Energy Poverty Research Group.

A poster highlighting the key issues was also created in both languages.

Bofinger said the resources were being shared with workshops and training institutes in Jaipur.

"We hope that the cost-effective best practices the videos identify could potentially be shared with other gemstone-cutting regions," she said.