n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Tailor's chair and musculoskeletal disorders in Nigeria




Apparel manufacturing is a labour intensive assembly line process requiring significant amounts of repetitive, skilled manipulation. Various studies have identified relatively high frequencies of musculoskeletal discomfort among sewing machine operators. Poorly designed and maladjusted workstations contributed to such reported problems. A survey of sewing machine operators in South-western Nigeria showed that the workstations of the sewing machine operators, especially the sitting devices, were of various types designed without conforming to the human ergonomic requirements. All the tailors (sewing machine operators) used foot-operated sewing machines with the machine serving as work table. Fifty percent of them used stools as sitting devices, while 50% used chairs. Thirty-five percent of the stools and 43% of the chairs were padded. The tailors sat at the edge of their seats with severe flexion of the trunk and neck (> 450). Also, 91% flexed their knees forward approximately 1100 without the seat being able to tilt. Ninety-seven percent complained of neck-shoulder pain, 43% of upper arm pain, 3% of pain in the elbow and forearm area, 58% of chest pain and 2% of pain in the fingers. It is concluded that seat devices which are not ergonomically designed, impose various work postures on operators which may partly be responsible for their musculoskeletal disorders. Hence, the redesign of sitting devices with ergonomic characteristics is recommended.


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