Thursday, December 6, 2012

Factory Fire in Bangladesh killed 112 workers: Who enjoys better working conditions?

Over the years, working conditions in manufacturing have tremendously
improved throughout western developed countries; although there is no
question that there is still a lot of improvement needed to be done. However
off-shoring the labor that is more intensive, physical, and oftentimes risky
to the countries that lack adequate occupational health and safety laws and
regulations is cheaper, and therefore more common even though it does not
implement preventive measure. The excessive danger of such manufacturing
jobs is put to the side, as companies take advantage of a population's
poverty which allow workers to accept any physical and hazardous condition
in order to feed themselves and their family.

The garment factory fire in Bangladesh, keep in mind that there are
approximately 4,000 factories in this country, is the most recent accident
related to this situation of occupational safety and health in countries
manufacturing the goods sold in western developed countries.

A witness shown on ABC news said "Our production manager ... pulled down the
collapsible gate on the third floor, forcing us to continue working."

The Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights
( and press reported a variety of these
catastrophic working conditions in many countries and the effects on the
people surrounded by them. The incidents of human terror include a "Chinese
Guest Workers Flee Living Hell in Jordan" and Reminiscent of Slavery, Young
Women Flee, Running Away from the 93-Hour Work Week at the Rich Pine

On the work conditions at the iPhone and iPad plants in China: "Employees
work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in
crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they
can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple's products, and
the company's suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and
falsified records, according to company reports and advocacy groups that,
within China, are often considered reliable, independent monitors." (New
York Times)

Relating to the ".working children in Pakistan is probably somewhere between
2 and 19 million...", "child weavers suffer work-related injuries and
illnesses, such as injuries due to sharp instruments, respiratory tract
infections, and body aches" (United Sates Bureau of International Labor

The countless reports make me question the global concern about these
situations, especially among ergonomic and human factors communities. Should
we not pay more attention?

Abbas Moallem

Published in
The Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics International (AHFE) NEWS - December 2012- Number 35