Occupational health and safety gaps in current standards and their implementation in textile industries of Karachi, Pakistan - an exploratory study

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Policy & Management (MSc Health Policy & Mgmt)


Community Health Sciences


The implementation of occupational health and safety measures is not well carried out in Low and Middle Income countries. The SDG-8 also aims to promote decent work that involves opportunities that are productive and deliver fair income, security in the workplace, social protection for families and freedom for workers to express their concerns and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. According to the International Labour Organization, about 2.3 million people die and 317 million suffer from serious occupational nonfatal injuries worldwide each year. Textile industries in Pakistan provide employment to about 30% work force of total 49 million. Workers are significantly exposed to chemical, physical and ergonomic hazards in Pakistan. The aim of present study was to explore occupational health and safety measures, according to current standards and their implementation in textile industries of Karachi, Pakistan. Methods: The qualitative exploratory study conducted from July to September 2016 in two textile industries of Karachi. Participants were purposively selected from textile industries. Data were collected through three in-depth interviews with managers of both textile industries and six key informant interviews with policy makers and experts associated with textile industries. In addition, desk review of the available policy and strategic documents was carried out. The interviews were recorded and field notes were taken. The qualitative data analysis resulted in emerging themes along with relevant categories and sub-categories. Results: The study findings revealed that there are policy, organizational and employees' level barriers for formulation and implementation of occupational health and safety measures in textile industries. The identified policy level barriers include lack of collective bargaining (Tripartite mechanism) for policy formulation and absence of stewardship. The existing laws lack comprehensiveness and health and safety deterioration at the work place persists because of less professionally trained experts in the occupational health. Thus successful implementation of control measures are missing and ineffective quality inspection persist. The barriers at organizational level are; third party contract system within textile industries that make the workers vulnerable to a number of exposures, absence of third party auditing in textile industries is another challenge. Moreover, there is insufficient promotion and preventive services and less focus on provisions of proper health services for workers in the nominated hospitals. Employees' lack of education and behavioral problems are hindrance to poor implementation of occupational health and safety standards. Conclusion: The barriers to implementation of occupational health and safety in textile industries are somewhat similar to other common set of health system issues of Pakistan and other developing countries. Stakeholders are working in isolation due to lack of coordination among them through a tripartite mechanism. Hence the recommendation for more precise standards to ensure implementation of existing laws is counter-intuitive. There is weak inspection system, poor governance, and inefficient functioning that leads to under-reporting of accidents, injuries and deaths.

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