Galaicha Weavers and Ergonomics

– Dison Maharjan

Galaicha, a handmade Tibetan rug woven in Nepal has created a distinct mark in international market. With its unique design, finest knots, colorful outlook and supreme quality it holds an identity of Nepal in international business arena. The carpet weavers have huge role in achieving this fleet. Sadly, poor working environment, ignorant about the effects of improper posture during work, long working shifts are very good reasons for weavers to be affected by MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders) in near future. The situation then, is an irreplaceable loss of valuable assets of the nation. The weavers are left alone in their hardship.

MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders) are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves). And manual workers or labors are in risk to be affected by MSDs. According to an article by Jalil Nazari , Nader Mahmoudi, Iman Dianat, Richard Graveling on  Working Conditions in Carpet Weaving Workshops and Musculoskeletal Complaints among Workers in Tabriz – Iran, the most commonly complained body parts were the neck (78.7%), lower back (68.1%), ankles/feet (63.8%), hands/wrists (55.3%), upper back (53.2%), shoulders (48.9%) and knees (48.9%).The study was conducted during a six-month period from July 2010. Twenty five active carpet weaving workshops in the Tabriz, Iran were selected for the purpose of this study. A random group of 200 weavers were selected from these workshops to participate in this study. These data mentioned above justify the fact that carpet weavers are really in risk to be affected by MSDs. By referring the methodology of the article, similar study was carried out at Corner Galaicha Udyog, Jorpati by my team of four members where we observed following facts.

Body region Symptoms

in last 12 months (%)

Total leave grants for the workers due to symptoms

in last 12 months (days)

Neck 18.8 46
Shoulder 43.8 388
Elbow 31.3 92
Wrist / Hands 43.8 69
Upper Back 43.8 320
Lower Back 50 365
Thigh 25 46
Knees 31.3 92
Ankles / Feet 25 46

In our study, only 16 weavers were included working in the factory among which 10 were women and 6 were men. The mean work experience of the weavers was 10 years and average age of the weavers was 26.75 years. On the basis of the data collected through 50% of the weavers complained about pain in their lower back in last 12 months time. Similarly, 43.8% complained that they had felt pain in wrist and upper back but they had taken only a day or two of works leave during last 12 months due to these symptoms.

We weren’t satisfied by the result of the study because we had expected to have complains of over 70% in areas like lower and upper back. Some of the reasons could be:

  • Enrollment of small number of weavers in the study.
  • The industry we choose provide good facilities for the weavers and the working environment was good. The lighting system of good for the weavers as transparent roof plates lightened the space during daytime and sufficient artificial lighting system was installed for the dark. The table below also shows the level of satisfaction of weavers with the environmental condition of workplace.
Environmental condition of workstation Carpet weavers (%)
Very satisfied Somewhat satisfied Neutral Somewhat dissatisfied Very dissatisfied
Lighting 31.5 25 12.5 18.5 12.5
Cleanliness 50 12 25 6.5 6.5
Thermal and  Air conditions 18.5 6.3 25.5 18.4 31.3

  • The weavers weren’t interested in answering. And psychologically doomed by recent police enquires on child labour because many of the weavers asked us if we were from NGOs.

This was just a small cameo of whole picture. If all carpet weaving were to be included in survey, it is pretty sure the condition of our weavers is worse than the condition of the weavers of Iran. When we visited the industry, the weavers were in utmost surprise to know about the proper working posture and its long term advantages. So, concern authorities should, now onward, begin their work on raising awareness on importance of proper working posture for the carpet weavers and even train and encourage them to follow exercise and routine of breaks during work. Along with, making them realize the advantages of doing so. The owners of the carpet industries should be encouraged to provide proper working environment for the weavers citing the benefits of better ergonomics as it is an integral part of maximizing the investment in employees.

The woven carpet is best suited raw. Raw and fresh hand work, away from buzzing machining and that’s what it makes it class apart. The art and experienced handwork is no less than precious stones. So, proper implementation of ergonomics in work stations and by the weavers themselves can ripe a good outcome in global rug market. It will not only help shine of country and help in economic growth, it would provide weavers strength to work for additional 7-8 years as compared to now. That means the art of weaving is preserved for some more years to come.

Dison Maharjan is pursuing Industrial Engineering (Batch of 2069) at Institute of Engineering, Thapathali Campus