Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Influence and Worker Safety: The Leather Industry

Not only do workers in the Leather Industry have to work in miserable conditions, the tanneries lack of safety equipment provides an extra hazard for the workers.  The first and second hand exposure to harsh chemicals are thought to reduce life expectancy to less than 50 and death linked to chemicals is all too common.  Employees often work without gloves, boots, aprons, or face masks often putting their bare hands and feet in chemicals.  Many workers hands are dotted with white scars from a chemical-caused disease; even when wearing gloves, the chemicals come inside.   Tanning leather also causes allergies, bronchitia, and pneumonia to name a few and an estimated 40% of tannery workers have health problems from direct contact with chemicals. 

Tannery workers are exposed to a variety of potentially dangerous chemicals. Photo: Danwatch

This video followed a worker in an Indian tannery who lost his sight permanently in one eye while working with the tannery chemicals; it also shows the working conditions in Indian tanneries.

What are your shoes stepping on?

The leather tanning business is filled with large and powerful tanneries that have a lot of influence over researchers researching health problems and risks.  This is why it’s hard to find statistics on the health problems associated with the leather industry.  One professor even canceled his research project on chrome as a cause of illness in tannery workers due to the pressures of the industry.  Not only are the chemicals used in the leather industry bad for the environment, they are hazardous to the employees. 

To read more about worker safety and the influence of the leather industry click here (photo taken from website).


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