Managing Heat Stress Among Ready-made Clothing Workers in Bangladesh

This research is carried out by Farzana Yeasmin1 , Shannon Rutherford2 , Aaron Bach2 , Jean Palutikof3 , Fahim Tonmoy4, Fahmida Tofai5, Mahbubur Rahman1  with funding support from the Global Disaster Preparedness Center.

The ready-made garment sector is key to growing Bangladesh’s economy- providing export opportunities and employment and financial security for a large, predominantly female workforce. To ensure sustained productivity and a thriving workforce, workplace hazards, like heat, must be acknowledged, assessed and managed. The existing heat hazard experienced in the sector is set to worsen as temperatures increase due to global warming.

Drawing on qualitative data collection methods this report highlights heat-health-productivity issues and explores heat management through the eyes of workers, managers and other sector stakeholders. This exploratory study identified that workers and health professionals attribute symptoms like headaches, dizziness, fatigue and nausea to heat, particularly during summer months, and that heat was considered an important influence on productivity by workers themselves and others working in or with the sector.  The report identifies diverse experiences relating to hydration and work-rest practices, tensions that exist between wellbeing and productivity driven by daily quotas and a preference for ventilation and space cooling solutions. It provides some recommendations for better targeting heat mitigation to times of the year and places in the factory where workers are most at risk and improved surveillance of heat related illness to ensure that supporting health services are adequate to meet demand.

  1. Assistant Scientist, Environmental Interventions Unit, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh
  2. School of Medicine and Dentistry, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  3. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  4. BMT Group, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


Bangladesh Heat Perceptions Research by F.Yaesmin 2022

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