Managing heat stress among Bangladesh ready-made clothing industry workers
Prof Jean Palutikof
Griffith University, Australia
In 2016–17, the ready-made garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh represented 80.7% of export earnings and 12.36% of GDP. Bangladesh has about 5,000 RMG factories, employing 4 million people, mainly women. Heat stress is a major contributor to their difficult working conditions. This is likely to worsen due to global warming and it is estimated that maximum temperatures will exceed dangerous levels by the end of the 21st century. This will affect workers’ health, welfare and productivity.
We will explore how low- to moderate-cost interventions can alleviate the impact of high temperatures and humidity in RMG factories in preparation for further climate change. We will compare the use of green or white roofs and actively-managed fan-assisted cross-ventilation, compared to no interventions and air-conditioning. Climate-controlled chambers, computer-based modelling temperature monitoring, and worker interviews will be used to explore perceptions of discomfort caused by heat.
Our findings will help us estimate when it will be necessary to invest in interventions and how effective they can be.