02 July 2019
This study aims to identify the ongoing physical and psychological health vulnerabilities of the readymade garment (RMG) factory workers involved in the Rana Plaza building collapse in 2013, along with their experiences within the current socioeconomic and political contexts of Bangladesh. Seventeen Rana Plaza survivors participated in unstructured, face-to-face, in-depth interviews. Interviews were thematically analyzed using Haddon’s matrix to examine pre-event, event, and post-event injury experiences. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building resulted in significant physical and emotional trauma for those who survived the event. The majority of the participants were forced to attend work on the day of the collapse. Participants reported physical health complaints related to bone injuries/fractures and amputation, severe headache, kidney problems, and functional difficulties. In addition to the reported physical health issues, the participants revealed psychological health issues including trauma, depression and suicidal ideation, sleep disorders, anxiety, and sudden anger. Participants described barriers to their potential for re-employment in the RMG sector and outlined their limited access to free healthcare for follow-up treatment. Those who survived the collapse of the Rana Plaza building continue to experience significant adverse physical and emotional outcomes related to the disaster. Yet, they have little recourse to ensure the availability of adequate health care and rehabilitation. Given the international reliance on the Bangladeshi RMG industry, continued pressure to ensure care is provided for these survivors, and to reduce the risk of future disasters, is necessary.