Rolling mills of West Bengal, India: present scenario and scope for improvement
The rolling mills of West Bengal are very old and use primitive technologies. The objective of this study was to assess the present working conditions of the rolling mills, especially in relation to workplace safety, and suggest scopes for improvement. Sixteen steel rolling mills were studied. Workplace conditions were assessed using an ergonomics checklist (ILO-IEA), video recordings and still photography. Prevalence of pain at different body parts was assessed through interviews of 52 male workers. Postures during activities were analysed by the Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) posture analysis method. Repetitive movements during work were analysed by the Assessment of Rapid Tasks (ART) tool. The workplace conditions were found to be very poor with very little emphasis given to the safety of the workers. None of the workers were provided with any proper personal protective equipment. The prevalence of MSDs was very high (80%). Through analysis of postures it was revealed that the jobs were rated as ‘moderate’ to ‘high’ risk and change to postures was required as a matter of urgency. There are many indications of the need for ergonomic improvements. The paper also presents some of the ergonomic recommendations that can be applied to improve the safety and workplace conditions of the rolling mills.
Keywords: Small scale enterprises; Safety; Musculoskeletal disorders