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Health hazards in Textile Industry

Exposure to chemicals: Workers in the textile industry are


also exposed to a number of chemicals, especially those
engaged in the activities of dyeing, printing and finishing.
Chemicals based on benzidine, optical brighteners, solvents
and fixatives, crease-resistance agents releasing formaldehyde,
flame retardants that include organophosphorus and
organobromine compounds and antimicrobial agents are used
in textile operations.

Studies have revealed links between exposure to formaldehyde


and nasal and lung cancer as well as to brain cancer and
leukemia, which can be fatal. In the long run, exposure to
formaldehyde could lead to respiratory difficulty and eczema.
Contact of the chemicals with skin as well as inhalation of the
chemicals can lead to several serious health effects.

A study conducted in USA revealed a correlation between the


presence of cancer of the buccal cavity and pharynx and
occupation in the textile industry. Another study revealed that
textile workers were at high risk for developing cancer of the
stomach while another study indicated a low degree of
correlation between oesophageal cancer and working in the
textile industry. Moreover, a high degree of colorectal cancer,
thyroid cancer, testicular cancer and nasal cancer was
observed among textile workers. Also, a relationship between
the presence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and working in the
textile industry was observed.

As per a study conducted on 1300 people working in 'tie and


dye' units in Jodhpur and neighboring areas, 100 workers were
observed to have occupation-related dermatitis. This
constituted 7.69% of the total sample. Red RC base and
naphthol were observed to be the most common culprits in this
regard.

Exposure to noise: High levels of noise have been observed


in most of the units engaged in the textile industry, particularly
those in developing countries. In the long run, exposure to high
noise levels has been known to damage the eardrum and cause
hearing loss. Other problems like fatigue, absenteeism,
annoyance, anxiety, reduction in efficiency, changes in pulse
rate and blood pressure as well as sleep disorders have also
been noted on account of continuous exposure to noise. Lack of
efficient maintenance of machinery is one of the major reasons
behind the noise pollution in a majority of the units. Though it
causes serious health effects, exposure to noise is often ignored
by textile units because its effects are not immediately visible
and there is an absence of pain.

A study of 77 employees in textile mills in Nagpur was


conducted by Ruikar MM, Motghare DD and Vasudeo ND. This
study revealed that 76.6% of the employees were at risk for
developing noise-induced hearing loss. The study of Indian
textile units by R. Steinberg, J. Hannak and K. Balakrishnan
indicated that 21.3% of the workers studied suffered from
noise-induced hearing loss.

Ergonomic issues: Ergonomic issues are observed in a


majority of the units engaged in textile-related activities in
India. Most of these units have a working environment that is
unsafe and unhealthy for the workers. Workers in these units
face a number of problems such as unsuitable furniture,
improper ventilation and lighting, and lack of efficient safety
measures in case of emergencies. The workers in such units are
at risk for developing various occupational diseases.
Musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome, forearm
tendinitis, bicapital tendinitis, lower back pain, epicondylitis,
neck pain, shoulder pain, and osteoarthritis of the knees are
some of the occupational diseases that have been observed
among the workers on account of poor ergonomic conditions.
These issues are more common in developing nations as
compared to developed ones.

As per a study by Parimalam Parimalam, Kamalamma N. and


Ganguli AK in the year 2006, there is a considerable difference
in the heights of the stools and the tables used for various
operations such as cutting and ironing. This led to the workers
having to sit in an uncomfortable position for entire work days.
The stools were not padded in most of the units, leading to
increased discomfort on the part of the workers. Moreover, the
stools did not have a backrest, as a result of which the workers
did not get adequate support to the back. In most of the units,
the level of lighting was low and improper placement of lighting
fixtures led to low lighting at the point of work, leading to eye
strain. On account of the continuous use of irons in some units,
the humidity level is very high, contributing to the workers
discomfort.

Challenges facing the global manufacturing sector

The manufacturing sector is an ever changing beast and each


year the industry faces new challenges. With 2015 fast
approaching, Manufacturing Global takes a look at the key
concerns manufacturers will have to overcome in the year
ahead.

1. Regulation and traceability

The manufacturing sector, like so many sectors, is facing


increasing regulation and compliance measures. Everything
from health and safety to waste management is surrounded in
red tape. While it is undeniable some regulations are essential,
other can be a massive burden to manufacturing companies
particularly when they vary from country to country.

Now more than ever, manufacturers must ensure they have


complete visibility throughout their supply chain for their own
compliance and that of their suppliers. Regulations often
require the ability to track items and materials used during the
manufacturing process.
Companies in highly regulated industries, such as medical
devices, are facing new regulations including UDI (Universal
Device Identification) and Pedigree requirements, while
chemical and electronics manufacturers deal with REAC
(Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restrictions of
Chemicals) and similar laws.

Keeping abreast of regulations and managing compliance


reporting is an ongoing challenge faced by the sector, and
more and more companies are choosing to dedicate whole
teams to stay ahead of new rules.

2. Product development and innovation

We live in a consumer driven world and as such product


development and innovation moving at a lightning pace to
stay relevant, manufacturers need to be able to keep up with
the pace. As companies vie to be first to market with a new
concept, the temptation to compromise on quality can be huge,
however manufacturers need to be stringent and avoid cutting
corners.

Fast times to market mean that companies need to become


more structured in their approach to managing innovation
great product ideas cannot be left to chance. Implementing
procedures that keep a steady stream of new product ideas and
innovations in the pipeline is essential to manufacturing
success.

3. The manufacturing skills gap

The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age and


leaving a considerable skills gap in the workforce. While
manufacturing firms are doing what they can to inspire a new
generation of manufacturing employees and experts, there is
still a considerable void when it comes to skills and experience.

Manufacturers need to work with schools and universities in


their communities to ensure that manufacturing focused
subjects are being well promoted and taught. In addition,
manufacturers need to bridge the gap by encouraging their
older employees to gradually slow down to retirement, passing
on valuable skills to younger employees during a transition
phase.

4. Healthcare costs

The manufacturing sector is certainly not the only one to be hit,


but rising healthcare costs for workers is putting a considerable
strain on already fragile manufacturing cost structures.
Manufacturers in the U.S. in particular face the burden of
providing healthcare while their competitors in other countries
are not required to. Manufacturers need to be aware of this
rising cost, and managed budgets accordingly, to ensure
healthcare doesnt push up the price of products beyond
commercial viability it can be a balancing act.

5. Environmental concerns and considerations

While it is undeniably good news for the local environment and


employee wellbeing, sustainability and environmental
regulations can be expensive for manufacturing firms.
Manufacturers need to be aware of these costs when outlining
their quarterly budgets.

6. Balancing maintenance with throughput

Keeping equipment functioning is an essential part of running a


manufacturing facility. Regular preventive maintenance can
help increase throughput and ensure customer satisfaction with
delivery lead times.

Sometimes manufacturers are tempted to postpone or delay


preventive maintenance or they replace factory components
with lower-quality items. This practice may create unsafe
conditions in harsh manufacturing environments if these lesser
components cant stand up to operating conditions. Poor
maintenance can cause health and safety issues, as well as
cause unplanned or excessive downtime. Manufacturers need
to perform preventive maintenance on recommended
schedules to keep operating costs low and throughput high
while helping to ensure worker safety.

Here are some of the problems for workers that make the job a
really hard one:

1. Working Conditions

Ship yards are not one of the most comfortable places to work
in. It is no corner office with glass walls. Instead there is a
constant danger in everything a shipyard worker does. The
conditions that shipyard jobs offer to work in are not only rather
uncomfortable but also dangerous to the workers health.

There are several precautions that need to be taken.


Sometimes it is extremely cramped spaces while at other
times; the mere fall can be high enough to cause serious injury.
Extreme nature of working conditions of shipyard workers is the
first problem they face.

2. Timings

Work on shipyards is no nine-to-five job. There are no fixed


timings. The extreme nature of their job means the workers
have to be available at all times.

The erratic time schedules make this job harder than it already
is, and definitely adds to the woes of workers. Sometimes they
even have to work for several hours together without much
rest.

3. Machinery Hazard

Ship yards are the places where no work happens at small


scale. The machinery used is huge, often requiring immense
skill and strength to be handled. A minor discrepancy while
working at such machinery can prove to be extremely fatal for
any shipyard worker.
The seriousness of injury can be as bad as death, in some
cases. Records of workers having been gravely injured date
back to as early as 1940s, a time when ship construction really
took off all over the world. Constant danger posed by the heavy
machinery is what is third problem faced by shipyard workers.

4. Slips and falls

It would be too much to assume that working on shipyards, in


conditions similar to what these shipyard workers work in,
minor falls and trips would be rare. However, the seriousness of
these minor slips on shipyards is much more compared to
somewhere else.

The workers on such ships always run a risk of slipping or


falling but here, there are more chances they might not just fall
but fall down several feet. Cases of severe injuries like multiple
fractures, head injuries, traumatic experiences, amputations
and sometimes even drowning have been reported. The risky
conditions of work and their vulnerability to injury is the fourth
problem faced by workers on shipyards.

5. Fires and explosions

Shipworkers work close to fire and electricity. The high chances


of a minor fault going wrong means things can go from bad to
worse in a jiffy. Chances of fires, explosions, shot circuit;
electric shocks etc are extremely high on shipyards. This high
risk of fires and burns becomes another problem for people
working on shipyards.

6. Cramped spaces and high pressure

Most ship workers work just as much in tiny cramped spaces as


they do in ridiculously open ones. The cramped spaces
(enclosed spaces) are one of the riskiest places to be working
in. A shipyard worker, while working in such tiny spaces is often
at risk of physical injuries to limbs, head or other body parts
along with more serious troubles like suffocation, asphyxiation
etc.
Also, the high pressure in such tiny spaces can often cause
much more grave and permanent damage like eardrum
rupture. Shipyard workers often complain of problems to their
hearing abilities due to working constantly under high pressure
conditions.

8. Improper knowledge

But the biggest problem faced by most of the shipyard workers


is that they are mostly unaware about the laws and safety
measures made to protect them. In terms of laws enabling
them to seek suitable work conditions or the laws that allow
them to seek compensation in case of serious injury or just
basic information about exposure to hazardous substances like
asbestos, the knowledge of these workers is low. This poses as
the biggest problem for the workers as it prevents them from
finding solutions to most of their other problems.

The problems faced by every worker on shipyards are immense


but their implications are even bigger. With correct measures, a
lot of these problems can be tackled but there is still a long way
to go.