The study of work-related musculoskeletal disorders amongst workers in brick making factory in South Africa

In brick manufacturing industries, studies have been conducted and there has been a general indication that working with bricks may dispose towards upper limb disorders This study investigated WMSDs in one brick-making factory, concentrating on the sorting section. The primary objective was to identify specific ergonomic risk factors for WMSDs among the brick sorters. The Logical Framework Approach method has been used in the designing of this project because of its simplicity and is objectives oriented, target group oriented as well as participatory oriented.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted regarding subjective pain/discomfort on different body regions and psychosocial situations, which brick sorters perceived as contributing factors to those disorders. Workplace analysis has been accomplished by observing the employees as they were doing the task. The main demands of the tasks and the risk factors as to, which may be present, were listed. Physical exposure to risks for potential WMSDs has been assessed using ovako working posture analysis method. Lifting indices (LI) based on the 1993 revised National Institute for Occupational Safety Health lifting (NIOSH) equations were calculated.

Results of the interviews showed that all of the respondents reported having experienced pain/discomfort arising from work, with the body parts most commonly affected being the low back, followed by the wrists/hands, shoulders, neck and upper back. The respondents consistently identified factors such as frequent twisting and bending of the trunk as the leading cause of the pain/discomfort. These results were supported by the posture analysis results, which also recommend that the corrective measures for improving the working postures are needed immediately. NIOSH results showed the recommended weight limit ranging from (0.50-0.93 kg) substantially less than the weight of even a single brick (2. 7 kg). The LI ranged from 2.90- 5.4, which exceeds 1.0 indicating the job to be stressful. As a result, the study suggests that the job should be redesigned ergonomically to eliminate the risk factors that may dispose towards upper limb disorders.

Author: Mufamadi Ndivhudzannyi, Edith

Source: LuleƄ University of Technology

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