This study investigated how women operating the garment industry in Divinópolis, Minas Gerais, understand and relate to the perception of work ability and health. We applied qualitative methodology to analyze their statements on the basis of social representations theory. The results suggested that work ability depends on factors such as training, social support, profession at home, job satisfaction, health and aging. Furthermore, it is affected by many influences external to the worker, who in turn, must constantly adapt to changes. The results highlighted the need for reflection on the role of working conditions and employment, organizational rigidity and loss of control over work, in health and work ability of operators in the garment industry.
women; occupational health; textile industry