Objective: To study the prevalence of musculoskeletal (MSK) symptoms and disorders among garment workers in Bangladesh, to look for possible relationships between pain location and type of work performed and to estimate the prevalence of rheumatological diagnoses.
Methods: A cross-sectional pilot study among 350 garment workers using the COPCORD (Community Oriented Program for Control of Rheumatic Disorders) methodology. Subjects with musculoskeletal pain were examined by rheumatologists for rheumatological diagnosis. The workers were classified into cutting, sewing, finishing and quality control operators.
Results: Most of the workers were aged below 35 years (88%) and females (82.9%) and the majority had only primary education (74.6%). The prevalence of MSK pain within 7 days of the interview was 77.1%, a much higher figure than in the general population. The most affected sites were: shoulder (17.9%), lower back (15.2%), neck (13.8%) and knee (10.8%). Multiple regional pain was the commonest finding in 173 of 350 workers. In this pilot study rheumatoid arthritis was diagnosed in 0.9%, undifferentiated arthritis in 1.1%, nonspecific low back pain in 4.6%, soft tissue rheumatism in 3.7%, osteoarthritis in 0.9% and lumbar spondylosis in 1.1%, figures comparable with those observed in the general population; spondyloarthropathy was seen more often, in 1.42%, possibly explained by the small numbers.
Conclusions: Musculoskeletal pains are common among garment workers of Bangladesh and may cause morbidity, disability, and work loss. Our findings may be important to plan ergonomic measures preventing complaints and may be of interest for international companies ordering garments in Bangladesh.
- Garment workers
- Musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders