Hesperian Health Guides
Chapter 6: Shoe factories
Making the materials for shoes, and gluing and stitching them together, are the jobs in shoe factories where workers are most likely to be harmed. Using glues and heating plastics release chemicals in the air that can make you sick.
To make work in shoe factories safer for workers, employers should:
- Use safer chemicals in all stages of production. Water-based glues are safer than glues made with solvents, but only if workers have good ventilation and protective equipment.
- Design safer work processes.
- Make sure all machines have guards, especially sewing machines and machines that get hot.
- Have good ventilation (see Chapter 17), especially in areas where rubber is mixed or glues are used.
- Give workers personal protective equipment (see Chapter 18), especially when working directly with chemicals or with hot materials.
Even the shoe factories that have taken steps to improve health and safety conditions for workers rarely pay their employees a living wage. Workers’ right to organize for a decent standard of living must be recognized in the global shoe industry.