RMG workers suffer health hazards for use of synthetic materials in factories

Speakers tell roundtable

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday said ready-made garment (RMG) workers are subjected to a variety of physical, chemical and biological hazards due to use of natural and synthetic materials in the factories.
Wage discrimination, long working hours, unhygienic environment, lack of water and sanitation facilities and inadequate rest and sleeping time are causing malnutrition and many other health problems to garment workers, they added.
They further said workers contribute a lot to RMG sector, the country's major foreign currency earner. So, the government and garment industry owners should pay more attention to them and ensure their health and security issues.
Doctors for Health and Environment organised the roundtable titled 'Health of the labourers of garment sector: Problems and solution' at WVA auditorium in the city to mark the May Day.
In a keynote paper, Occupational and Environmental Health of National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) Associate Prof MH Salimullah Sayed said about 2.2 million workers are employed in the garment industry. Of them, 65 percent are women workers.
He further said RMG workers are subjected to a variety of physical, chemical and biological hazards due to use of natural and synthetic materials in the factories.
Health hazards like musculo-skeletal disorder, urinary tract infection and anaemia and nutritional problems are stemming from bad working condition, long working hours, lack of water and sanitation and inadequate health care facilities in the factories, he added.
He recommended to take measures for improving the working place, ensuring adequate toilets, allowing workers to drink water and undertaking training programmes on occupational health safety for the sake of the workers' health.
Sramajibi Nari Maitree Convener Bonhi Shikha Jamali said though health-related problems are major ones of the workers, the government and industry owners do not pay much attention to these problems.
She suggested decreasing working hours, ensuring decent wage and necessary health care services to the workers.
Dr Rawshan Ara of NIPSON said most of the women workers suffer from malnutrition and 15 percent of them suffer from sever malnutrition.
The nutritional and reproductive status of women workers is very much vulnerable and they suffer from lack of vitamins, iron and zinc, she said, adding that they also take less food what they need to take.
Mentioning the wage of the poor workers, Wajedul Islam Khan of Bangladesh Trade Union Kendra said the minimum wage and the dearness allowance of the garment workers should be consistent with the current market prices.
He suggested increasing the minimum wage at Tk 4,500.
Doctors for Health and Environment General Secretary Shakeel Akhter recommended to ensure first aid services in the factories for primary health care facilities of the workers.
Garment workers Parul Akter and Nasima Akter narrated their problems they face in their factories.
With Rashid-E-Mahbub in the chair, the roundtable was moderated by Dr Mirzadi Sebrina Flora.
Doctors for Health and Environment Vice President Nazmun Nahar, Dr Nasrin Bina Sikder, Dr Mustaq Hossain, Prof Mamunur Rashid and Dr Fawzia Moslem of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad also spoke.


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