Brick kiln workers : Another brick in the wall


Almost 600 brick masons die around the world, due to improper treatment and unhygienic surroundings.

After the lockdown, Sabaiya, (57), moved to Bengaluru with his family from Gorakhpur, taluk: Chittapur, in pursuit of a better life. Many others, likewise, leave their hometowns in search of a better life. However, these workers live on the site amid the dirt, sleeping, eating, and defecating in the same area. Furthermore, the laborers’ children grew up in such conditions that they often ended up working as bricklayers.

The hectic work schedule and the fear of salary cuts push them to work late hours and consume painkillers to work every day. which can harm their brain and liver over a period of time, as well as induce heart attacks.

According to the research paper on the occupational health of brick workers in India, 85 percent of workers report injuries during work.

The workers work for more than 15 hours a day and don’t get enough time to rest and are helpless to work for their livelihood, even if it hurts. “Our eyes become red; look at how dust and ash have rendered my vision impaired. Near my eyes, nose, and all over my face, I experience burning and itching feelings. My hands and legs are also scorched. Our hands get blisters due to which we can’t even touch our face,” Sunanda (work in a kiln) added.

She also added that “Pain does not occur when we are working, but it does become evident as we grow, says Sunanda.”

Meera Jindal, a doctor said, the workers experience discomfort in their wrist and hip joints as a result of not receiving enough recovery time in between, forcing them to take longer-acting antacids. When one takes pain relievers over a prolonged period. They are more susceptible to liver and kidney problems.

Lack of Safety Measures

The Workers utilize coal and rice waste to build bricks, which they then burn, releasing gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. exposing them to chronic illnesses such as chronic lung disease.

Respiratory morbility among workers by Reema Bansal

According to the report, the respiratory symptoms of chronic cough were present in 23.55% and phlegm in 22.83% of the respondents.  Chronic bronchitis was present in 20.52% of the respondents.

Sunanda said, “We have difficulties in breathing, cough, and have heart problems as a result of inhaling dust. Mucus builds up in our lungs, causing cough. There are numerous issues, such as joint pain and so on. Workers who make bricks are not adversely affected. It is us who have more problems.”

According to the Building and other construction worker Act 1996, laws 46 and 225, it is essential for the owners or the contractors to provide workers with head protection and other protective apparel and to provide safety measures from hazardous places.

The workers, on the other hand, claim that the owner does not give them any and that they must pay for their own needs. “I am willing to provide them with the safety equipment but they aren’t and we can’t push them all the time. We’re also busy,” said Varun, a brick kiln owner

According to the Karnataka Labour Welfare Department Scheme, every year the union and association must organize a one-lakh-rupee event financed by the labor welfare funds, to help the labor to get their check-up done.

Occupational Health of Brick Workers of India by Reema Bansal

Although just 10% of brick workers are covered by healthcare plans, the remaining 90% are still uninsured. brick workers are exposed to infectious diseases and work-related accidents because of their living conditions. This is why 57 percent of workers report a loss in household income as a result of their treatment.

“We have to get everything on our own, the owner only gives money when the problems get out of control or life-threatening,” Shankaramma, another worker, stated.

Impact on Environment:

Environmental impact of Coal usage by Reema Bansal

Coal is the primary resource used by the brick industry, which consumes roughly 24 million tons per year. Around eight percent of India’s total coal consumption comes from this source. Coal in the brick industry contributes to severe air pollution and leaves behind bottom ash causing a variety of health concerns, particularly in the respiratory system.

Sandeep Anirudha, an environmentalist said, the main issue emerges when the bricks are baked. “It will have no environmental impact if we simply take clay and sun-dry it. However, we will have an impact if we utilize industrial brick manufacture, which necessitates energy, water, transportation, carbon footprint, and land emissions, along with other things,” he added. Brick workers’ health should be protected by using semi-automatic brick production machines or brick made of cow dung or cement.


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