The prevalence of repetitive trauma disorders among workers in the garment industry was investigated with the intention of identifying specific sources of ergonomic stress which could be causing these conditions. The prevalence of pain in selected joints and limbs was investigated through a survey of 397 workers, of whom about 25 percent suffered persistent musculoskeletal pain in at least one part of their body. The most frequent location of the pain was the hand, followed by the back and neck. The following tests were also administered: Phalen's Test used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome; Tinel's Test used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome; Finklestein's Test used to diagnose deQuervain's disease; and Thumb Rotation Test used to diagnose degenerative joint disease. Particularly high rates of strain were noted among stitchers. The authors recommend that: efforts be made to reduce the coefficient of friction between the fabric being sewn and the working surface of the machines; sewing surfaces of the machines should be slanted in order to possibly reduce the tendency to lean forward; and workers should be rotated among different stitching jobs to reduce the amount of exposure each has to the more strenuous of the tasks.
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