Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 5: Garment factories

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HealthWiki > Workers' Guide to Health and Safety > Chapter 5: Garment factories



Cutting and sewing clothing is hard on the body. But low wages, fast production lines, unsafe conditions, lack of unions, and harassment hurt workers even more (see Part 4: Social Dangers and Solutions).

Garment work can be designed and organized to protect workers’ health by ensuring high standards in all factories for:

  • good ventilation (see Chapter 17) and the right personal protective equipment (PPE, see Chapter 18).
  • fire exits, fire prevention measures that include sprinklers and fire extinguishers, and emergency evacuation plans (see Chapter 11).
  • freedom to organize unions and health and safety committees (see Chapter 2).
  • maintainance of equipment and worker and management trainings on health and safety.
  • respectful treatment including a living wage and social benefits required by law (see Chapter 19).


Achieving these basic human rights is still a struggle in most factories. The challenge is to connect and organize with other workers and consumers to win these changes from the factory owners, the international corporations that contract them (the "brands"), and the government.