Box 60.1Use of a Toolkit to Determine Return on Investment in Central American Garment Factories

The Regional Occupational Safety and Health Center (Centro Regional de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional) Project in Central America developed an occupational safety and health toolkit to enable managers and line workers in garment factories to self-diagnose plant and workstation hazards and to estimate the costs and benefits of interventions (Amador and others 2003). Managers and employees at more than 100 Central American garment factories have been trained to use the toolkit. An in-depth evaluation of the use of the toolkit in three garment factories, each employing between 700 and 1,000 workers, in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua found that within one year the factories generated savings that were four to eight times the costs of the interventions.

The overall investment by Confecciones La Palma in 2002 was US$6,360, and the savings attributed to that year were US$27,242 from reduced injury, illness, and absenteeism and an increase in productive days (see table).

Change in Illness and Injury Indicators in the First Quarter of 2003 Compared with the First Quarter of 2002 at Confecciones La Palma

Indicator20022003Percent change
Number of accidents6336−40
Days of absenteeism200149−25
Sick days822426−48
Visits to factory clinic2,7162,163−20
Productive person-daysNot givenNot given+12

Source: Data provided by Confecciones La Palma.

A CD-ROM version of the tool kit in Spanish and English also contains the guide "How to Design and Establish an Occupational Safety and Health Program in a Garment Factory" and can be found on the NIOSH Web site at

Source: Amador and others 2003.

From: Chapter 60, Occupational Health

Cover of Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries
Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries. 2nd edition.
Jamison DT, Breman JG, Measham AR, et al., editors.
Copyright © 2006, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank Group.

NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.