Evaluation of ergonomic needs among female sewing machine operators in garments industry of Bangladesh: a pilot study
Authors: Samia Rafique, Jecha Suleiman Jecha, Hui Lyu
Abstract: The enrichment of the garments industry in Bangladesh has given employment to millions of people, especially women. With cellular manufacturing, enhanced productivity accompanies increased musculoskeletal disorders risk (Shaheen A., Mohammad Z.R, 2014). Sewing operators working posture is a vital factor related to musculoskeletal symptoms (Dianat et al., 2015). However, there is limited research on the ergonomic needs evaluation among Bangladesh female sewing machine operators.Seven female sewing machine operators in a garment manufacturing unit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, were recruited for this pilot study. A combined survey sheet was developed to record demographic information and CMDQ questionnaires. The demographics included age, weight, height, marital status, and education level. CMDQ is a survey sheet to evaluate the rating of symptoms in specific body parts (neck, shoulder, arm, upper back, lower back, leg) by multiplying the frequency, severity, and interference scores. Anthropometric measurement and sewing facilities (table and chair) dimension measurement were conducted. Subjects were interviewed about their subjective opinions on the ergonomic functions of sewing machine facilities.Participants were 31.6±8.8 years old, 56.4±8.4 kg, and 5.27±0.35ft. They are married, and their educational levels range from class 5 to 8. A typical daily work process of a female sewing machine operator in a garment manufacturing unit in Bangladesh is constantly sitting for more than 10 hours with a 1-hour lunch break. They hardly move around, only to pick up their work in the morning and submit their production to their supervisor at the end of the day. After a whole day of work, four people reported lower back pain, while three reported neck pain, 2 with leg pain, and 1 with arm pain. Lower back got the highest discomfort score (26.5), followed by neck (10), arm (7), and leg (3). The mismatch computations between body and facility dimensions showed that the current design of sewing facilities is unsuitable for female workers. The seat height is too low, and the hip width is too narrow for them. According to interviews, subjects complained about their current working chair without elbow rest which was quite uncomfortable for them to work. It could be one of the reasons that a worker is facing severe arm pain. Consistent with anthropometric measurement results, several subjects mentioned that the seat and desk height was inappropriate for them. They had to use a cushion on the seat to make them more comfortable.In conclusion, female sewing operators in Bangladesh's garment industry face a high risk of musculoskeletal disorders with mismatched facility dimensions and little consideration of their ergonomic design. A better understanding of their ergonomic needs involving sewing operations can potentially impact workers' quality of life and national productivity.
Keywords: ergonomic design, workers, garment industry, relaxing chair
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