Ergonomic Workplace Evaluation in Ugandan Apparel Plants (Part-5)

Ergonomic Workplace Evaluation in Ugandan Apparel Plants (Part-5)
Tebyetekerwa Mike
Dept. of Textile & Clothing Technology
Kyambogo University
Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256(0)773770312 // +256(0)701181383

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2.4.3 Finishing Department
The primary tasks in the finishing department are:
  • Hand Sewing
  • Final Inspection
  • Packaging Hand sewing
The workers performing this task sew the finishing touches on the garments, which may include buttons, eyelets, sequins or fur. The important aspects of the task to consider are:
  • the work surface,
  • the chair,
  • the input/output technique and
  • accessories.
Common problems
Work surface. A non-existent or inappropriate work surface results in the worker using his or her lap as the work surface. This creates poor neck and back postures that are maintained for extended periods of time and increases stress on the legs and feet.

Chair. Hand sewers sit on poor chairs. The chairs are not adjustable; they provide little or no back support and limited cushioning.

Input/Output. Hand sewers must pick up the garments prior to performing their task and deposit them once they have completed it. Typically sewers stand to remove the garment from a high rail and place it on the rail again upon completion.

This requires the sewer to perform lifts with the arms extended and elevated above shoulder height.

Accessories. Hand sewers are not provided with a footrest to help relieve the stress on their legs and back while seated. Some are working in poorly lit areas, which can encourage poor posture and result in eyestrain. Workers are using inappropriate tools such as large, heavy scissors for cutting thread. Final inspection
The task of final inspection typically involves visually inspecting the garment for flaws, trimming threads along seams and in some cases cleaning chalk or lint from the garment. The important aspects of the task to consider are:
Inspection of garment
Inspection of garment

  • the work surface,
  • input/output,
  • support surface,
  • hand tools,
  • lighting and
  • work organization.
Common problems
Work surfaces. Work surfaces that create problems include rolling racks for hanging garments and flat tables. Rolling racks are typically too high and require reach- ing above shoulder height.

Flat tables encourage poor neck or shoulder and wrist posture depending on the height of the table.

Input/Output. Rolling racks create difficulties for input and output, as they are typically too high. Boxes sitting on the floor create problems because they are too low.

Support surface. Final inspection is usually done from a standing position. Concrete floors can lead to fatigue in the legs, feet and back. Often no seating option or footrests are provided.

Hand tools. Inspectors use large scissors that are heavy and awkward to use and therefore require a lot of force to operate.

Lighting. Inspectors work in poorly lit areas or ones with inconsistent lighting. This can accentuate poor posture and eyestrain.

Work organization. Inspectors work at a very rapid pace and do not take scheduled breaks. This does not give the body time to recover and is a risk factor for injuries. Some inspectors have little variation in their tasks. They rarely have to get up from their workstation since garments are delivered directly to them. Others have to carry large bundles of garments through crowded walkways. Packaging

This task can involve folding and packaging the garments in a bag or a box. We looked at several operations for packaging men’s dress shirts and special considerations for these packaging stations will be described. Important features to consider include:
  • the work surface,
  • input/output,
  • support surface and
  • accessories.
Common problems
Work surface. Work surfaces are often flat tables that are not height adjustable and are not at a height appropriate for the worker. When the table is too high the worker has to use an elevated shoulder posture and when it is too low a poor neck and back posture is the result. Packaging tables are often too deep and require excessive reaching to locate tools and supplies. This is particularly true for the shirt folding tables. Rolling carts are much too low and require the packer to work with a very flexed back posture. Overhead racks are too high and require elevated arm postures and heavy overhead lifts.

Input. Cardboard boxes located on the floor. Extremely high rolling racks.

Output. Garments are placed in very large cardboard boxes that packers can barely reach over, or placed on high, over-filled racks.

Tables or benches are at inappropriate heights. Workers must lift and carry awkward, heavy boxes.

Support surface. Many packers are required to stand on concrete floors without anti-fatigue mats.

Accessories. Some swift tackers require excessive force to operate and create contact stresses in the hand. Hangers are often very difficult to open and close. Irons are heavy and require a poor thumb posture to operate the steam. 

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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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