Ergonomic Workplace Evaluation in Ugandan Apparel Plants (Part-1)

Ergonomic Workplace Evaluation in Ugandan Apparel Plants (Part-1)
Tebyetekerwa Mike
Dept. of Textile & Clothing Technology
Kyambogo University
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256(0)773770312 // +256(0)701181383
Email: miketebyeks@gmail.com




ABSTRACT
The study analysed and evaluated the workplace of a worker in Ugandan apparel plants. 103 workers in 7 garment factories were interviewed. Report and observational studies suggest that employees in this industry often work under difficult conditions that are unacceptable in industrialized countries. This report gives results of an ergonomic workplace evaluation in Uganda to evaluate the working conditions of the plant from an ergonomics/human factors perspective and to suggest possible solutions to management for implementation. The investigation was done by a questionnaire survey and by observations and measurements in the workplace. The results indicated that the plant conditions were stressful, involving long work hours with poor safety and labor relations, and that work equipment and the physical workplace design were not acceptable ergonomically. A low-cost solution, is presented to management and workers by the researcher.
Ugandan Apparel Factory
Ugandan Apparel Factory

INTRODUCTION

1.0 Introduction
This chapter covers background of this study, the statement of the problem, justification of the problem, objectives, significance and scope of the study.

1.1 Background
In view of the rapid growth in industrial production in the last decades, it has become necessary to approach issues of work organization, management, and working conditions in a comprehensive manner. Employers have begun to monitor closely all factors potentially impeding continued increases in productivity. Initially, advances were driven mainly by mechanization of the production process, which soon got out of control becoming a frequent cause of occupational injuries and diseases. The consequence was an increased role of the human factor as the main part of systems composed of man, machine, and the working environment. (Wiesław, 2001)

The need to ensure a safe working environment is a prerequisite to providing high quality products and services. Occupational safety is one of the most important factors contributing to productivity increases, which consequently lead to more benefits from business activities. A comprehensive analysis of working conditions allows corporate managements to adjust employee pay for risks faced in a given workplace and define competences required in specific jobs

Aware of the need to improve working conditions, a research on ergonomic workplace evaluation in Ugandan garment factories is therefore required.

1.2 Problem statement
Ergonomically-designed job would ensure that a taller worker had enough space to safely perform his or her job, and also that a shorter worker could reach all of his or her tools and products without reaching beyond a comfortable and safe range.

The opposite of this, and what typically happens in the workplace, is that a worker is forced to work within the confines of the job or workstation that is already existed. This may require employees to work in awkward postures, perform the same motion over and over again or lift heavy loads – all of which could cause work-related musculoskeletal disorders. (K.Saravanan, 2011)

The garment industry therefore needs to continuously identify the problems and, more importantly, implement solutions to reduce the risk of injuries in situations where these problems exist.

1.3 Significance of the study
To adapt the workplace for the worker in order to decrease the risk of injury and also to improve the link between the worker and their environment.

1.4 Objectives of the study

1.4.1 General objective
To evaluate the working conditions in the garment plants of Uganda from an ergonomics/human factors perspective and to suggest possible solutions to deal with observed problems in order to avail a better working environment with minimum or no threats to the workers.

1.4.2 Specific objectives

  1. Create a database of the working conditions in the Ugandan garment manufacturing plants.
  2. Alert the Ugandan government, employers, worker’s cooperatives and other concerned organizations about the current safety and health of workers in the Ugandan garment plants
  3. Improve on the productivity of the workers in the garment factories.
  4. Minimize costs involved in worker’s compensation inform of accidents, fines and deaths
1.5 Scope of The study
The Ugandan clothing manufacturing industry consists of large, medium, and small enterprises. The large formal clothing manufacturing plants are currently phasing out, and the industry is currently made of Small and Medium enterprises, which will serve as the survey environment. Small enterprises consist of design houses and sub contractors which are referred to as CMT (Cut Make and Trim) within the context of the clothing industry, with the number of employees ranging from 10-100. The medium enterprises, which are full package manufactures (they design and manufacture their own products); have between 120-500 employees.

The research was carried out in Kampala and Jinja. This is because these are the most industrialized areas in Uganda. The research considered working environment, processes and machines involved in the enterprises, and the people involved, that is; the workers. 


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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.


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