Aims: The purpose of this study was to describe the health hazards among child labourers in brickfields, and to assess occupational health problems, together with physiological and respiratory stress, compared with child control subjects. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 112 child brickfield workers and 120 control subjects, and a modified Nordic Questionnaire was applied to assess the discomfort felt among both groups of workers. Physiological assessment of the workload was carried out by the measurement of heart rate, blood pressure and spirometry of the workers. Results: Child brickfield workers suffer from pain, especially in the lower back (97%), shoulder (88%), hands (82%), wrist (76%), neck (73%) and ankle (71%). The post-activity heart rate of the child brickfield workers was 166.5 beats/min, whereas the systolic and diastolic blood pressures were 132.2 and 67.2 mm/Hg, respectively. The forced vital capacity value of child brickfield workers was 2.04, and in the case of the controls it was 2.18, which was significantly different. The forced expiratory volumes in 1 s of experimental and control subjects were 1.82 and 1.92, respectively. The peak expiratory flow rate was significantly different between the two groups. Conclusions: Most of the brick-making activities were strenuous ones that affected the children. The cardiovascular and respiratory health of the child brickfield workers has changed markedly due to strenuous activity. The child brickfield workers also experienced other occupational health problems and severe musculoskeletal pain. © 2018 The Author(s).