Factors Associated With Health Complaints Among Leather Tannery Workers in Bangladesh

Golam Rabbani, Baki Billah, Anil Giri, Sarder M. Hossain, Ahmmad I. Ibne Mahmud, Bilkis Banu, Bilkis Banu, Sheikh M. Alif

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Few studies have reported associations between occupational exposure to tannery chemicals with breathing difficulty and skin diseases and none have been conducted in Bangladesh. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of health complaints with types of work and length of employment among tannery workers in Bangladesh, where occupational health and safety regulations are less restricted compared with the developed world. Methods: One hundred sixty-seven (n = 167) workers from 10 tanneries were interviewed using a questionnaire adapted from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) and the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS) to collect information on occupational exposures and health outcomes. Workers’ length of employment was examined, as well as their areas of work including beamhouse, wet finishing, dry finishing, and miscellaneous. Univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were performed to investigate potential associations while controlling for confounders. Results: Length of employment was positively associated with breathing difficulty (odds ratio [OR]: 1.32, 95% confidence interval [CI]:1.07–1.64). Workers involved in the wet finishing (OR: 11.75, 95% CI: 2.12–65.10) and dry finishing (OR: 13.38, 95% CI: 1.00–181.70) had higher odds of breathing difficulty; while, working in the beamhouse was associated with an increased risk of developing skin diseases (OR: 4.36, 95% CI: 1.10–17.32). Conclusion/Application to Practice: Length of employment and types of work were associated with increased risk of health complaints, including breathing difficulty and skin disease among tannery workers. Stronger regulations with regular enforcement, regular health surveillance, and worker and employer education are necessary for reducing these exposures and improving the health outcomes of the tannery workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalWorkplace Health & Safety
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • chromium
  • health complaints
  • leather tannery workers
  • occupational exposure
  • tanning

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