Source: International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics (JOSE)

This paper reviews the role and importance of small-scale industries together with the issue of occupational health problems and their causes in Iranian hand-woven carpet industry as a typical informal small-scale industry in an industrially developing country. The objective of this paper is to review health risk factors and related occupational health and ergonomic problems in the carpet industry. Since the overwhelming majority of weavers' health problems originate from ergonomic risk factors, it is concluded that any improvement program in this industry should focus on ergonomic aspects. To assess ergonomic conditions in weaving workshops, a checklist has been developed and an ergonomics index indicating the ergonomic conditions of the workshop has been proposed. To test and verify the checklist, 50 weaving workshops were visited and their ergonomic conditions were assessed. Based on the results some modifications were made and the checklist was shown to be an effective tool.

1. Introduction

Small-scale industries are a widespread, fundamental and essential form of production [1]. In many countries, small-scale industries are the main providers of new employment. In addition, these industries play an outstanding part in economic development of countries by producing export products.

In developing countries, great efforts are directed towards encouraging the development of small-scale industries as the engine for the growth of their economies [2]. In these countries, small-scale industries employ a high percentage of the work force and comprise a high percentage of all industries. Small-scale industries have been estimated to employ 45-95% of the work force in developing countries [3].

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About the Authors

Alireza Choobineh and Mohammadali Lahmi are associated with School of Public Health and Institute of Public Health Research, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Teheran, I.R. Iran and Houshang Shahnavaz is associated with Division of Industrial Ergonomics, Lulea University of Technology, Lulea, Sweden