India produces 200–250 billion clay bricks annually, the second largest producer of clay fired bricks, accounting for more than 10% of global production, in 1 50 000 to 2 00 000 brick kilns. Each brick kiln employs between 250–300 workers, bringing the total number of workers to approximately 20 million, which is roughly 4 per cent of a total of 459 million workers in India, of which almost 40% are women. The Brick Industry in India is characterised by traditional methods of production technology and seasonal work.Methods
The study was done in Tripura, a state in North East India to assess the impact of traditional brick manufacturing technology on the health of the workers. A convenient available sample of 94 workers from 4 brick kilns who have worked for 5 years or more were taken from the total population of 280 (including children) of these kilns. The workers were interviewed to obtain information on demographics and personal habits followed by a general physical medical examination, blood test with complete haemogram, random blood sugar levels and pulmonary function test. The data were analysed using MS Office Excel 2007 & Epi. Info 18.104.22.168 version.Results
The average age of workers is 34 years, 27% were female and 73% male workers. 55% worker are loaders, 29% moulders and 7% fire-workers, 75% being migrant workers, 49% being underweight, 51% anaemic, 78% have eosinophilia (younger workers were more affected, p value 0.04), 66% have low back pain.Conclusion
Brick kiln workers are suffering from high morbidity in Northeast India because of their work. This demands urgent attention for health and safety programs and should include regular in-service training emphasising health risks of brick kiln work, preventive measures, technological interventions etc. Health surveillance of workers would be highly beneficial in achieving better health status.