health and safety
Many of the most pressing health issues for garment workers stem from the endless hours they spend working.
Poor ergonomics - how well a job task fits a worker’s body - combined with long hours and unrelenting pressure to meet production quotas lead to eye strain, fatigue and debilitating overuse injuries that often go undiagnosed and untreated. Rather than adapting tools and tasks to prevent injuries, bosses routinely ignore complaints of pain and discomfort, and fire workers who can no longer keep up with production.
Workers may also be fired for taking time off to get medical care or to recover from an injury or illness. In Bangladesh, a worker interviewed in 2003 was ill at work for two months before she missed a day to go to the doctor. Her manager then deducted two day’s pay, and she lost her full attendance bonus. On return she was told to work an extra eight hours unpaid to catch up with her target. In total, being unwell cost her 11 days’ wages.
In many factories, workers are not given clean water to drink nor are they allowed to use the toilet when they need to.
In Bangladesh, some 200 workers have died and many more have been injured in garment factory fires between June 2004 and June 2006. Most died in stampedes as workers trapped in factories panicked and rushed to the only exit. Many factories have no emergency exits.
- For more detail, see factsheet 6.
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