In a report released Tuesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch says Dhaka’s tannery workers are exposed to dangerous chemicals and are in danger of accidents due to tannery machinery.
It says even children as young as 11 are in serious danger.
One child featured in the report tells of regularly putting his hands in contact with acidic chemicals and once getting caught in large rotating wooden drum used to hold and soften the skins.
Jahaj, 17, has worked in a factory where animal hides are tanned in Hazaribagh, a combined residential and industrial neighborhood of Dhaka, since he was 12. He works a 10-hour day (with an hour off for lunch) and earns 3,000 taka ($A36) a month.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to do more to improve conditions.
Bangladesh annually exports millions of dollars worth of leather goods to some 70 countries, including the Australia, U.S. and Japan.
A government project to relocate the factories outside Dhaka has been delayed due to lack of funding and land and compensation disputes.
Bangladesh adopted the National Child Labor Elimination Policy 2010, providing a framework to eradicate all forms of child labor by 2015, but according to the International Labor Organization there are still around 3.2 million child laborers in Bangladesh and, according to the International Labour Organization, around 215 million kids worldwide are currently working in exploitative child labour conditions.