Why Ergonomics is So Important in Workplace of Apparel Industry?

What is Ergonomics in the Workplace of Textile & Apparel Sector?

Ergonomy comes from Greek words ergos and nomos and implies work laws. Scientist are concentrating increased focus on this field of study that combines researches on human anatomy, physiology, biomechanics and industrial engineering. In short, Ergonomy is the study of how people interact with their environment at their workplace.
Ergonomics program in apparel industry
Fig: Ergonomics program in apparel industry

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ergonomics in Workplace of Apparel Industry:

Ergonomy looks for ways to optimize the relationship between worker and the environment they are working in thus tries to improve workplace environment to pave the way for better job performance and textile and apparel productivity.

It is understandable that a worker working in workstation cannot attain the best performance because of the fact that the workstation is poorly designated. If the worktable is too high or too low, he will not attain the best motion and the work may prove to be tiresome. Even poor light can seriously disrupt work efficiency of a sewing operator.

Besides, sewing workers are engaged in special types of work which is repetitive in nature. Such type of work leads to a type of disorders of body parts which has come to be known as Cumulative Trauma Disorders or Repetitive Motion Disorders. These are very painful diseases that may lead to body or body parts dysfunction.

The factors that induce such disorders include the following:

  1. Continuous work repetition,
  2. Posture (wrong manner of sitting or standing during work for long hours),
  3. Pace,
  4. Force,
  5. Vibration.

Role of Ergonomics in the Workplace of Apparel & Textile Sector: 

1. Human Factors:

Ergonomy seeks ways and means to fit the person to the job or vice versa. It also studies human dimensions (anthpometry) so as to be able to design tools, equipment’s, workstations suitable for the individual so that he can use most of his physical and psychological ability in performing the job.

Environmental conditions including light, air, ventilation, temperature seriously influence the work stations and as a result employee performance. Optimum conditions promote congenial working conditions and so productivity.

2. Job Design:
Sewing workers undergo rigorous types of repetitive work. Some workers make as many as 50 movements per minute with each hand. Such quick repetitive works make a heavy toll on their health by causing weakness, fatigue; injury etc. working in sitting or standing condition in static posture is vulnerable to such problems. Workings in sitting or standing conditions have their own pros and cons. Sitting allows body weight to be distributed to the sitting device, easier muscle coordination and easy hand manipulation but this allows to use limited body strength and control limited work area.

On the other hand, standing posture allows using higher body strength, better control over work area. But sustained work in standing posture puts heavy pressure on legs and often leads to leg swelling. The better lay-out is one that allows workers to move between workstations. Such lay-outs also allow sit & stand approach which is considered more health-friendly.

3. Workstation Design:
Workstations should be so designated that they fit the individual dimensions enabling him to work without any limitations on posture, pace etc. and must be congenial to work environment. Design feature should include height of work surface (table top), seat height, elbow height, work area to be controlled etc.

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