Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Unsafe Working Conditions

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 26: Work > Unsafe Working Conditions


Many factories have unsafe working conditions, such as:

  • closed and locked doors and windows, which make it impossible for workers to get out during emergencies, and which keep air from flowing freely.
  • exposure to toxins, such as chemicals and radiation, without protective barriers or clothing.
  • unsafe equipment.
  • fire hazards, like loose electrical wires, or chemicals or vapors that burn easily.
  • no safe water, toilets or latrines, or rest breaks.
a woman taking a break from sewing work to drink water If your workplace is hot, drink plenty of liquids and eat salted foods — especially if you are pregnant. Women are more likely to get heat stroke than men.


a woman wearing gloves and goggles and with her hair tied back as she works at a machine

Many of these conditions cannot be changed unless workers get together and demand change. But here are some things you can do yourself to prevent problems:

  • When you begin a new task, get instructions from your boss or supervisor about how to safely use all equipment and chemicals. Always ask for advice from women with experience using the same equipment or the same chemicals.
  • Whenever possible, wear protective clothing—like hats, masks, gloves, or earplugs for loud noises. When working with machines, avoid wearing loose clothing. Keep long hair tied up and covered.


This page was updated:11 Sep 2017
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