Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job. Adapting tasks, work stations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on the workers body and eliminate potentially serious, disabling work related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).
MSDs, or musculoskeletal disorders, are injuries and disorders of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and cartilage) and nervous system. They can affect nearly all tissues, including the nerves and tendon sheaths, and most frequently involve the arms and back. Occupational safety and health professionals have called these disorders a variety of names, including cumulative trauma disorders, repeated trauma, repetitive stress injuries, and occupational overexertion syndrome. These painful and often disabling injuries generally develop gradually over weeks, months, and years. MSDs usually result from exposure to multiple risk factors that can cause or exacerbate the disorders, not from a single event or trauma such as a fall, collision, or entanglement. MSDs can cause a number of conditions, including pain, numbness, tingling, stiff joints, difficulty moving, muscle loss, and sometimes paralysis. Frequently, workers must lose time from work to recover; some never regain full health. These disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, sciatica, herniated discs, and low back pain. MSDs do not include injuries resulting from slips, trips, falls, or similar accidents.
The apparel industry is generally seen as a safe place to work. Compared to other industries, there are relatively few serious accidents in apparel industries. The hazards they face are different. The major health risks in this industry do not arise from immediate, potentially fatal hazards. Instead, the risks that apparel workers face come from more subtle hazards whose effect accumulates over time. Research shows that the work environment in apparel manufacturing units is unhealthy and unsafe for the workers, resulting in several health problems.
One research was on the different garment industries in Mudarai City, India which was conducted in 18 garment manufacturing units located in Madurai city. A total of 216 workers from these 18 garment manufacturing units formed the study sample. Various methods like interview with the workers; analysis of work environment; hazard identification and risk assessment; and quantification techniques were used to collect information about the work, work environment and workers’ health problems. The results of the study revealed that there had been several gaps in work environment, tools and equipment that affect the health and safety of workers at the work site. Enumerated below were the results of the study:
a) The furniture used in the garment manufacturing units was either above or below the recommended levels and the strained posture had to be maintained throughout the work day, which could have been responsible for the development of pain in the shoulders, the upper arm and the forearm. b) The mean levels of illumination in the cutting and stitching was found to be low when compared to the standard levels recommended by Grandjean. c) Continuous exposure to high levels of noise over a period of time would result in noise-induced loss of hearing among the workers in this section. Improper maintenance of the machines also added to the mechanical noise. Excessive dust was reported as a problem by 27% of the workers in the cutting section. Based on the study, interventions to improve the work environment, safety aspects and work methods have been suggested which could be adopted on a wider scale.
Also, one study that was conducted in Tarai agro‑climatic zone of Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand State India shows a poor...
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