ABSTRACT

 

The present study was undertaken to study the occupational hazards and problems faced by the inhabitants residing in an around the screen-printing units of Jetpur. A descriptive research design was planned using survey method. Purposive sampling method in conjugation with snowball technique was adopted to select a sample of 50 printing units from Jetpur, sample also included 150 workers, 15 residents residing within one kilometres range of printing units and five doctors on the panel of textile association were interviewed for the corroboration of data.

 

The results highlighted the fact that detrimental work practices in the printing units without the use of protective clothing resulted in various types of physical, chemical, ergonomic and biological hazards. The major problems faced by the workers related to skin were itching, dry skin, cracks and pimple acne owing to the exposure of chemicals. Shoulder problems comprised of pain, stiffness, and tremors in hand and pain in elbow due to the activity performed and lower limb. Results also revealed that people residing near the units suffered from many physical problems such as headache, feeling of nausea and difficulty in breathing owing to the stagnant coloured water and overflow of the drainage pipes from printing units.

 

Introduction

 

Printing of textiles is a very ancient art, which in modern times received considerable help from science and have shared in surge forward of technology. The English word Printing was coined in the 18th century and is derived from a Latin word meaning:

 

Impression being similarly derived. 1

 

Decoration of textiles though is in vogue from earliest times but India has a long-standing tradition of dyeing and printing. India is one of the countries where the art of textile printing has been practiced since ages and brought to perfection. Printed and patterned cottons are considered to be a specialty of this place. In India exuberant patterns in surface design abound. The special quality of printed fabric, fast nature of dyes and the ability to respond with alacrity and sensitivity to meet the growing demands for new designs and patterns ensured the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and West-Bengal as the foremost centre for producing the printed textiles fabrics fully enriched with multitude of designs reflecting the vitality of Indian people are created by a variety of printing techniques.

 

Textile printing in earlier times was practiced by the use of eco- friendly products. The soft delicacy and harmony of natural colors that formerly characterized Indian fabrics have given place to brilliant tints produced by synthetic dyes. Indian dyers and printers found the imported synthetic dyes cheaper to use mainly due to simplified process of application, ease in getting them in standard forms and greater variety of shades with good wash fastness. On the contrary, the liquid waste discharged after printing contained highly toxic dyes, bleaching agents, salts, acids and alkalis. Heavy metals cadmium, copper, zinc, chromium, iron etc. are also found in dye effluents. Poor health, safety and waste management practices may pose serious health hazards to textile workers as they are exposed to such conditions with no control over the length and frequency of exposure2.

 

 

Textile printing is an imperative segment of textile processing industry giving employment to millions of people. It is alleged that due to unscientific methods of processing, unhealthy work practices and scant regards to environment protection this sector has emerged as a major water polluter, playing havoc with the health of population residing in and around them. The use of toxic chemicals in printing units cause threat to the manpower employed in such units in a way directly resulting in occupational health hazards3. Since a major time of a worker is spent in his work place, the need for the concern towards health problems and factors responsible for the same becomes a decisive point of study.

 

The introduction of a more environmentally sound practices of work is however, hampered by many practical obstacles. The main problem lies in the collection and assessment of the environmental data. It becomes difficult to calculate the impact of usually complex processes on the health of the workers. In view of these facts, a survey was conducted to discern the factors responsible for the problems and to assess the health risk caused due to textile printing industry.

 

Having reviewed the available literature the investigator discovered a dearth of database researches carried on such burning issues that are of high concern to the government. As a result the researcher got inclined to take an initiative to probe in the government concerning need based subject. The work, therefore, will be answer to exotic and destructive development of the textile printing sectors. Hence, there was a felt need of reliable records focusing on various aspects of printing units including the profile and the technical aspect, and health problems of the workers in these units. Its seminal significance lies in its presentation, exposition and evaluation of the present prevailing conditions in the printing units.

 

Methodology

 

A descriptive research design was planned using a survey method. To gain a holistic insight into the functioning and existing status of textile printing units of Jetpur, purposive random sampling technique was adopted for the present investigation in order to select the respondents.

 

A list of the printing units was procured from Jetpur dyeing and Printing Association. The total number of printing units prevailing in the hand-processing cluster were 540 in number in the month of November 2005 as investigated in the pilot study by the researcher, which had abridged up to 514 in number during August 2006, comprising of 500 small scale and 14 medium scale enterprises.

 

Based on the secondary source of information congregated from various sources, of the total small scale printing enterprises established in Jetpur 10 per cent of the total units i.e. 50 were selected for the study using purposive random sampling method in conjunction with snowball technique. Due care was taken to draw the representative sample of the units concentrated within the locale of the study.

 

Of the total worker population a sample size of 30 percent which account to 150 workers was drawn from each unit using purposive sampling method to study their work profile and health problems faced by the working staff.

 

The data obtained was further corroborated by interviewing five doctors on the panel of the printing units practicing within a radius of three kms. of the locale and reviewing the case papers of the patients so as to verify the data procured from the workers on occupational hazards. In order to acquire authentic data regarding the impact of printing units on environment and to access the problems faced by the residents, 10 housewives were interviewed residing within a kilometre from printing units.

 

The data was presented in terms of percentages, frequencies and tabular forms. The descriptive form depicts the scenario within the units.

 

 

Results and Discussion

Findings of the investigation as obtained on analysis of data using survey and observation method through open and closed ended interview schedule are described and discussed under following heads: The printing cluster, Technical information of the units, The printing process, profile &job description of the workers, Health problems of the workers in the units, Corroboration of data.

 

The printing cluster

 

Jetpur is a small town of Saurashtra situated at 21″43′60N latitude and 70″37′0E longitude, 70 kms. away from Rajkot. Jetpur has been a centre of trade and commerce famous for its screen-printing. Comprising of the total population of 1, 50,00 of which 40,000 people are engaged in printing work.

Technical Information of the Units

The data regarding the area covered by the units revealed that majority i.e. 70 per cent of the units covered an area of 1000 to 2000 square yards. The finding further indicated that 88 per cent of the units had an initial investment of Rupees one to five lacs, values of the data regarding the existing capital investment in table-1 indicate a high rise of the present capital value i.e. almost four times that of the initial invested capital.

 

Table-1 : Distribution of the units according to the capital employed

 

 

The findings revealed that all the printing units employed less than 25 workers being small-scale units.59% units employed only five to ten workers, 6% employing 21 25 workers in the units which was attributed to the amount of production and number of printing tables.

 

The printing process

 
Printing processes undertaken within the units were printing and sodium silicate after treatment. Amongst 50 printing units, 11 units were confined to printing process whereas 39 units carried out both printing and after treatment. The production process of chemicals portrayed in flow chart-1 and printing procedure were observed to be similar in all the printing units.

The fabric was obtained in grey state by the buyer that was further sent for processing to the local dealers. The processing included scouring of fabric with Sodium bicarbonate and detergent to remove the grease and dirt particles from the fabric followed by bleaching using oxidizing bleach to impart whiteness. The fabrics were then dried and dispatched to the printing units. It was then cut into the required length as per the article to be printed i.e. for sari a length ranged between 5.5 or 6 meters was needed; a fabric length of 1.8 meters for Khanga and 0.9 meters for Kitanga was required. The printing table was coated with wax and the fabric was placed on it. The coating was done either monthly or bimonthly, depending on the production. On the other hand printing paste was prepared by the dye master wherein mixing was carried out manually in most of the units.

After the printing final finishing touches are given at the edges where dye paste had not penetrated were carried out manually with the help of a sponge dipped in dye paste The fabric was then dried on the table for two to three hours followed by hanging on the cords for complete drying in open air some of the units also used hot tables for drying the fabric (flow chart-2).

 

To fix the prints on the fabric the next chemical process was after treatment given with sodium silicate carried out by padding mangle the fabric was treated with a solution of sodium silicate and was kept for 12 hours followed by drying in natural air. Fabric was then sent for washing for removal of free silicate and gum adhered to the fabric surface.

Washing and drying was followed by stentering or manual application of maize starch. Ironing was the final finishing process given to the printed fabrics, which were then folded and packaged

ready for dispatch. The packaging of the products was done both manually and mechanically for domestic and export markets respectively as portrayed in flow chart-3

Profile of the workers

 

Cent per cent of the workers were male members out of which 76.66% belonged to Hindu community and 23.33%were Muslims. Data pertaining to educational qualification of the workers revealed that 56% attained primary education while 42%were secondary educated (Table-2).

 

Table-2: Distribution of workers according to demographic details

 

The results also revealed that 49.33% of the workers have been working since past 10 years and only 9.33% worked for more than 21 to 30 years who were permanent labours as stated by the owners of the units.

 

Job Description of the workers

 

The data indicates that 66.66% of the workers were engaged in the printing operation and 33.33% were appointed as dye master in the printing units(Table-3). All the workers employed were on contractual basis yet, by virtue of long service period i.e. more than 21 years; they were eventually the permanent workers.

 

Table-3: Distribution of workers according to the job description

Data regarding the income of the workers indicated that majority i.e. 57% of the printers earned Rs130-Rs160 per day. Whereas, 41% of the dye masters earned above Rs3001 per month (Table-4). Variation of the income of workers was owing to the type of job performed, amount of work output of individual and depended on the owners of the units.

 

Table-4: Distribution of workers according to income

 

 

The data analysis inferred that wages earned by printers was more than the dyers but pay on holidays and festive bonus was confined to the dye master stated as the permanent labours. 26% of the workers opined that they were underpaid with the amount of work performed and time spent in the work centre.

 

Health aspects of workers

Data analysis regarding the health problems faced by the workers as observed in table-5 show that workers usually suffered from skin, hand, shoulder, cardiovascular and lower limb problems.

 

Statistics further inferred that problems related to CNS were headache and feeling of nausea attributed due to lack of Oxygen interference caused by the inhalation of volatile solvents, due to the chemicals and dyes and also owing to improper ventilation in the unit premises resulting in excess heat.

 

Major problems related to skin were dryness, cracks and itching caused due to the exposure to chemicals that tend to dissolve the protective oil layer covering the skin exposing it to injury from heat, sunlight and chemicals. Shoulder problems comprised of elbow pain followed by stiffness and owing to the activity performed during the job. 30%of the workers suffered chest pain due to the to and fro motion of hands while printing. Stressful and long working hours resulted in pain in hands, legs and joints.

 

 

 

Table-5: Problems faced by workers owing to the various occupational hazards (n=150)*

*multiple responses

 

Excess heat and foul smell were the exposure faced by the workers in the printing units attributed to low ceiling and lack of ventilation

 

The tabulated values indicate hand related problems that are majorly caused due to long and stressful work and heavy jobs performed.

 

The data analysis and researcher inferred that 33.33% of the workers were exposed to foul odour owing to smell of chemicals and dyes used in printing units31.33% of the workers faced excessive heat within the working areas due to the constructed infrastructure with low ceiling and improper ventilation.

Corroboration of data

 

 

Problems faced by the residents

 

The data analysis revealed that the major problems faced due to growing number of units were insufficient water supply, foul odour of the chemicals owing to the stagnant coloured water in the open roadside ditches Created by the overflow of the drainage pipes from the printing units or blockage of the sewers resulting in land pollution. Along with these consequences, people residing near the printing units suffered from many physical problems such as headache feeling of nausea, difficulty and breathing. The problems faced were increased during the rainy season. As stated by the residents the above-mentioned problems could be triumph over by centralising the processing units on the outskirts of the town.

 

Interviewing the doctors

 

The data procured through the interviews and reviewing the official case papers of the patients it was found that major problems faced by the patients engaged in the printing job were stiffness in shoulders, chest pain and pain in lower limbs similar to those as mentioned by the workers. According to the doctors the reasons for the above problems were long working hours, improper posture while working and weak physical built due to improper food intake. Another point of concern was skin problems faced by the workers that included pimple acne, dry and cracked skin of hands and heels which could be turned into severe dermatitis if not given due care. The factors contributing the skin problems were exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons that tend to block up the pores in the skin causing acne and chemicals coming in contact to the skin tend to dissolve the protective oil layer covering the skin.

 

Doctors opines that almost 20 per cent of their patients comprising only the workers of the printing units were exposed to skin diseases like scabies and ringworm which were not stated by the workers. Outsiders were more prone to such diseases i.e. belonging to the nearby states owing to unhygienic living conditions that were apart from the working hours.

 

Reference:

 

1. Kafke, J.F., History of textile decoration. Robin publication, New Jersey.

2. International journal of environment and pollution Vol.21, No.5 Tirupur textile processing units- not so polluting. Nishkam, A., (2004).

3. De, A.K., Environmental chemistry. New age international (P) Ltd. Publishers, V edition, New Delhi.

 

 

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