Sewing Machine Operators

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1 Sewing Machine Operators Feel Better! Work Better! Position that may case pain How to Prevent Job-Related Pain How to Adjst Yor Chair and Other Eqipment to Fit Yor Body There are many ways yor work area can be made more comfortable for yo. DECEMBER 2009 These changes may prevent pain California Department of Pblic Health California Department of Indstrial Relations

2 Is yor job casing yo pain? Pain, nmbness, or tingling in the sholders, neck, back, and hands affect many sewing machine operators. These symptoms may be related to yor job. Symptoms may start gradally and many people try to ignore them at first. Bt if yo ignore them, symptoms can get worse and become harder to treat. Inform yor employer and get medical care right away if yo have symptoms. These symptoms may indicate a serios injry that can interfere with yor work and personal activities. They can even lead to permanent disability. Why do sewing machine operators have these problems? An ncomfortable work position. Sewing work may force yo to hold yor body in the same position for long periods. If so, pain and injry can reslt. Repeated or forcefl motions sch as reaching, stitching, pinching, plling hndreds of times a day can case small injries to mscles and joints. Long work hors and few breaks mean less time for mscles and joint injries to heal. Hard edges. If the edges of yor chair, work table, or table legs press into yor body for long periods, it can damage nerves or soft body parts. 2

3 How can injries be prevented? By law, yor employer is responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. Here are some things yo and yor employer can do to prevent injries: Talk with other people at work. Do workers have health symptoms or injries? Does the employer know abot what to do to prevent injries? Provide adjstable chairs. New evidence from health stdies says that a good chair can redce pain and prevent injries. A good chair for sewing shold: Swivel Have padded seats with padded adjstable backrests Adjst easily in height Have five legs (not for) and have no wheels Use foot spports for both feet. Adjst yor eqipment to fit yor body. (See page 5 How to Adjst Yor Work Eqipment for a Better Fit ) Improve lighting. Poor room lighting or shadows may case yo to lean forward in an ncomfortable position. If this is the sitation, yor employer shold provide a gooseneck lamp, preferably with a florescent light becase it prodces little heat. Older workers are more likely to need extra light. Avoid sing extension cords becase they can case tripping or fire hazards. Check yor vision. If the material or needle is blrry when yo are in a comfortable position, yo may need prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or inexpensive drgstore reading glasses. Employers can help by providing vision care insrance. Make reaching easier. Avoid twisting yor back. If yo se a swivel chair, trn yor whole body with it. Redce long reaches. Stack materials and finished pieces close to yo. Place bins and carts as close as possible. Provide training. A trainer/consltant can help and teach workers to adjst their workstations, inclding chairs, table heights, and foot spports. The consltant can train a few workers to assist their co-workers. Each worker shold also know the early warning symptoms of injries. Take short rest breaks for a few mintes every hor dring the workday to stand p, stretch, and walk arond. Short rest breaks can help yor body recover from work stress and keep yo from getting serios injries. Yo will probably find that yo get more done, and feel better, too.* Get medical care for symptoms. See a doctor if yo have symptoms of pain, nmbness, tingling, swelling, or redness. (See page 2 Is Yor Job Casing Yo Pain?) * In California, if yo work a minimm of for hors a day, yor employer mst allow yo to take a ten minte paid rest break for every for hors of work. See California Department of Indstrial Relations at: 3

4 Taking action to prevent injries Workers and management can form a safety committee. A sccessfl committee is one that has strong employer spport. An experienced ergonomic consltant can provide technical assistance. Here is what a safety committee can do: Talk to workers abot their jobs and inspect eqipment to identify conditions that case discomfort or injries. Meet reglarly to discss problems and possible soltions. Develop and test practical soltions. Encorage workers to report work-related injries to their spervisor. Who makes reglations to protect workers health and safety? Employers mst follow workplace safety reglations made by a government agency called Cal/OSHA. These reglations protect workers from hazards, illnesses, and injries in the workplace. Some workplace safety reglations are: the Repetitive Motion Injries Reglation,* the Sanitation Reglation, and the Fire Prevention Plan Reglation. If an employer violates sch reglations, a health and safety complaint can be reported to Cal/OSHA. Complaints are confidential. Cal/OSHA can investigate to see if the workplace is following these safety reglations. Cal/OSHA also answers qestions abot workplace safety reglations. Find Cal/OSHA s phone nmber in the ble Government Pages near the front of the phone book. Look nder: State of California, Indstrial Relations, Division of Occpational Safety and Health, Compliance or Enforcement, or visit: Cal/OSHA also provides a Consltation Service for employers ( ). This agency explains workplace health and safety reglations, and helps employers comply with them. They do not cite or impose fines. * Repetitive Motion Injries (Title 8, Section 5110), available at: Sanitation (Title 8, Section 3362), available at: Fire Prevention Plan (Title 8, Section 3221), available at: 4

5 How to Adjst Yor Eqipment for a Better Fit Yor chair and foot controls shold spport yor body. Adjsting yor eqipment to a comfortable position can prevent injries. The table height may need to be adjsted by a mechanic to fit yor body. Team p with a bddy. Help each other adjst yor chairs and other eqipment. It s easy to see another person s position. It s hard to see yor own! 1 Check the chair seat tilt. The seat shold be level, or tilted forward (higher in the back) if yo prefer. 2 Adjst the chair seat height for the comfort of yor sholders, arms, and neck. Try to: Relax yor sholders Keep yor elbows close to yor body Sit pright so yor head, neck, and back are not bent forward 3 Move yor hips to the back of the chair. 4 Adjst the back rest to spport yor lower back. 5 Next, spport yor feet for the comfort of yor legs and back. 6 Adjst the knee control. 5

6 For More Information HESIS (Hazard Evalation System and Information Service): HESIS answers qestions abot workplace hazards and has many free pblications available. For information on workplace hazards: (866) (toll-free in California). Please leave a message and yor call will be retrned. For HESIS Pblications: (866) toll-free in California. Gide to Getting Medical Care for Job-Related Pain That Won t Go Away. Helps workers recognize symptoms that need treatment; choose a doctor; and commnicate better with health care providers, employers, and the workers compensation system. HESIS Pblications List. Pamphlets and fact sheets on workplace hazards inclding chemicals, repetitive motion, and infectios diseases. Visit or website, call, or write for the list. A gide for health care providers treating work-related mscloskeletal disorders is also available. Workers Compensation. If yo are injred on the job, or work makes an existing injry worse, yo may have a right to receive benefits sch as medical care, wage replacement, and retraining (if a job change is needed). Benefits are available to all workers, inclding immigrants, part-time, piece work, and temporary workers. For free pblications in English and Spanish go to: Compensation/workers compensation.html Division of Workers Compensation, Information and Assistance (I&A) is a free State service for injred workers withot an attorney. An I&A officer can help yo throgh the legal process in simple cases. To find the I&A office closest to yo, call the atomated telephone service at , or go to the I&A website at: Cal/OSHA Consltation Service helps employers to improve safety and health conditions withot triggering enforcement inspections. Call for assistance. ABOUT THIS FACT SHEET This pblication was prodced by the Hazard Evalation System and Information Service (HESIS), the Occpational Health Srveillance and Evalation Program (OHSEP), the UCLA Labor Occpational Safety and Health (UCLA-LOSH) Program, and the UC Berkeley Labor Occpational Health Program (LOHP). We appreciate technical assistance from the Ergonomics Program of the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley campses. We grateflly acknowledge assistance from the Asian Immigrant Women Advocates in Oakland and the Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles. The recommendations in this fact sheet are based on research stdies and pblished information, and on general ergonomic principles.they may not be appropriate for every sewing operation or individal worker. This pblication may be copied in its entirety for edcational se. To obtain a copy of this docment in an alternate format, please contact: (510) Please allow at least ten (10) working days to coordinate alternate format services. California Relay Service: (800) or 711. HESIS HAZARD EVALUATION SYSTEM & INFORMATION SERVICE California Department of Pblic Health Occpational Health Branch 850 Marina Bay Parkway Bilding P, 3rd Floor, Richmond, CA (510) Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor State of California Kim Belshé, Secretary California Health and Hman Services Agency Victoria L. Bradshaw, Secretary Labor and Workforce Development Agency Mark B Horton, MD, MSPH, Director California Department of Pblic Health John Dncan, Director Department of Indstrial Relations JANE NORLING DESIGN 6

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