Gender-based Health Profile of Garment Workers at Bengaluru: Who Fare Better?

Seema Prakash, Suhitha R Das, Prasad Byrav, Shilpashree Madhava Kunjathur, Sharath Burugina Nagaraja

Abstract


Background: In India, the garment industry is an unorganized sector, mostly run by private establishments. It provides employment for both men and women, mainly those from the lower socioeconomic classes. The employees of this industry hardly ever benefit from occupational health-and-safety provisions. As a result, they are prone to many comorbidities; majority of them come under the cover of Employees State Insurance Scheme (ESIC) from Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India. The ESIC hospitals in the areas create awareness and advocate the employees to utilize the services efficiently through mobile health camps. During this camp, the employees are screened for any morbidity through verbal screening of symptoms, physical examination, and basic laboratory investigations. Objectives: The objectives of the study were to describe and compare the health profile of garment factory workers based on gender working at industrial areas in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted at eight different garment factories in the industrial areas of Bengaluru during February 2015–January 2016. Apart from verbal screening for diseases, we performed basic investigations such as hemoglobin percentage, random blood sugar, and peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR). Results: A total of 631 workers were screened during the period, of which 446 (71%) were female and 145 (39%) were male. Our study reveals that nearly three in four garment factory workers are female and 30% of them are found be anemic and 67% of them had the median PEFR value of lesser the median. The health profile of males is comparatively better than females. Conclusions: The female garment workers are vulnerable population for various morbidities at garment industry. Due care should be given by the policy-makers and the industries to uplift the health of females, provide safe working environment, and empower them to perform skilled activities.

Key words: Anemia, garment factory workers, health, industry, peak expiratory flow rate


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