t has been known that small-scale industries present particular occupational health and safety problems. The workers of these industries are more prone to have health and safety problems since occupational health services are not readily accessible to them. Most of these companies employ too small a staff number to warrant the provision of their own individual occupational health service. Among the potential dangers posed in these industries are ergonomic and chemical hazards. These jobs require prolonged standing and manual handling. People who continuously stand while performing work are more likely to suffer from pain and aching in the extremities and lower back than others. Kourinka et al reported ergonomic factors such as awkward working postures, static load and task invariability to be some of the most important factors contributing to occurrence of musculoskeletal symptoms. Musculoskeletal disorders account for a large number of worker’s compensation days and functional disability in the Western world.
The batik industry in Kelantan believed to have begun in the early 20th century, contributes significantly to the state Gross Domestic Products. Many of these factories are located in the backyards of homes and are usually run as family business.
To our knowledge there have been no epidemiology reports on occupational health and safety problems among batik workers in Kelantan, Malaysia. The present study aims to elucidate some of the health problems associated with the batik industry such as chronic disease, workstress and other occupational health problems. This study also specifically focuses on ergonomic issues in the workplace and it’s association with musculoskleletal symptoms.
This is a cross-sectional epidemiological study using a structured questionnaire interview. The study was conducted between June and October, 1998 in selected batik factories in Kelantan. All factories with more than five workers were identified and selected to participate in this study. Using cluster sampling, a total of 28 factories that fulfill the above criteria were identified. However only 21 factories agreed to participate. All workers who have been in the industry for at least one year and who were available during the study period (except administrative staff) were included in this study. The questionnaire comprised sociodemographic data and general health information. Work-related musculoskeletal symptoms were sought using a body map that was modified from a Standardized Nordic Questionnaire (SNQ) for analysis of musculoskeletal symptoms. The availability of health services and workers’ welfare were also asked. This included the availability of panel doctors, residence doctors and general medical facilities. The data collection was done by two research assistants who were given prior training. Pilot testing was done in the same industries which were not from the sampling frame. Minor modifications were made based on the feedback given. Data collected were entered and analysed using Epi Info computer package. Sample proportions were compared by Chi-Square test. Student’s t-test was used to compare means of quantitative variables. The significant level used for evaluating the test of significance was set at 0.05.