Assessment of occupational health problems and physiological stress among the brick field workers of West Bengal, India
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Department of Physiology, South Calcutta Girls’ College, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2014;27(3):413-25
Objectives: The brick field industry is one of the oldest industries in India, which employs a large number of workers of poor socioeconomic status. The main aim of the present investigation is i) to determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among brick field workers, ii) to determine the prevalence of respiratory disorders and physiological stress among brick field workers compared to control workers. Material and Methods: For this study, a total of 220 brick field workers and 130 control subjects were selected randomly. The control subjects were mainly involved in hand-intensive jobs. The Modified Nordic Questionnaire was applied to assess the discomfort felt among both groups of workers. Thermal stress was also assessed by measuring the WBGT index. The pulmonary functions were checked using the spirometry. Physiological assessment of the workload was carried out by recording the heart rate and blood pressure of the workers prior to work and just after work in the field. Results: Brick field workers suffered from pain especially in the lower back (98%), hands (93%), knees (86%), wrists (85%), shoulders (76%) and neck (65%). Among the brick-making activities, brick field workers felt discomfort during spading for mud collection (98%), carrying bricks (95%) and molding (87%). The results showed a significantly lower p value < 0.001 in FVC, FEV1, FEV1/FVC ratio and PEFR in brick field workers compared to the control group. The post-activity heart rate of the brick field workers was 148.6 beats/min, whereas the systolic and diastolic blood pressure results were 152.8 and 78.5 mm/Hg, respectively. Conclusions: This study concludes that health of the brick field workers was highly affected due to working in unhealthy working conditions for a long period of time.
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