Background: Many sewing machine operators are working with high risk factors for musculoskeletal health in the garments industries in Bangladesh.
Objective: To identify the physical risk factors among sewing machine operators in a Bangladeshi garments factory.
Participants: Sewing machine operators (327, 83% female), were evaluated. The mean age of the participants was 25.25 years.
Methods and materials: Six ergonomic risk factors were determined using the Musculoskeletal Disorders risk assessment. Data collection included measurements of sewing machine table and chair heights; this data was combined with information from informal interviews.
Results and discussion: Significant ergonomic risk factors found included the combination of awkward postures of the neck and back, repetitive hand and arm movements, poor ergonomic workstations and prolonged working hours without adequate breaks; these risk factors resulted in musculoskeletal complaints, sick leave, and switching jobs.
Conclusions: One aspect of improving worker health in garment factories includes addressing musculoskeletal risk factors through ergonomic interventions.
Keywords: Bangladesh; Ergonomic risk factors; ergonomic intervention; garments industries; musculoskeletal complaints.