Environmental and Occupational Health Practice
Online ISSN : 2434-4931
Occupational Health in the World
A qualitative study of the working conditions in the readymade garment industry and the impact on workers’ health and wellbeing
Humayun Kabir Myfanwy MapleMd Shahidul IslamKim Usher
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2022 Volume 4 Issue 1 Article ID: 2021-0020-OHW

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Abstract

Objectives: There has been debate regarding the working conditions for employees of the Bangladesh readymade garment (RMG) industry since the 1980s. Little is known how the existing working conditions of the Bangladesh RMG sector impact workers’ health and overall wellbeing, which remains the key aim of this study. Methods: The study adopted a qualitative descriptive design. Twenty-seven RMG workers (female: 21, male: 6) were purposively recruited for focus groups (FGs) from both the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) and non-EPZ factories located in Dhaka and Chattogram, the two largest cities in Bangladesh. FGs were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Inductive thematic analysis was performed to review the transcribed data and to identify themes. Results: The study identified that the existing working conditions impacted workers’ health and wellbeing severely. These conditions mainly comprise of inadequate workplace facilities (lack of pure drinking water, unavailability of qualified doctors, and fabricated signage of childcare facilities) and poor working environments (lack of hygienic practices, unavailability of safety equipment, sexual harassment, mandatory nights shifts, inappropriate sitting arrangements, and workplaces as death traps). All the female workers reported experience of verbal or sexual harassment at least once inside the factories also noted anxiety and feeling unsafe while working during night shifts. These conditions are presented within the socioeconomic conditions of Bangladesh. Conclusions: This study contributes to understanding the nexus between factory owners’ profit maximization mindset and workplace conditions in relation to workers’ health and wellbeing status. Strict monitoring of the workplace conditions of Bangladesh RMG factories is warranted.

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https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
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