This project was a cross-sectional survey of the working environment and health outcomes of 102 Thai stone sculptors in northeast Thailand. In addition, postural analysis was conducted on 25 stone sculptors using the REBA method.
Most stone sculptors were male (90%), had worked an average of 9.6 years, worked 6 days/week, an average of 6.9 hours. About 67% reported being exposed to high levels of noise and 10% reported reduced hearing. Postural analysis by REBA found that 80% were in a MSD high risk category. Reports of musculoskeletal disorders in the past 3 months were common with symptoms reported by 28% for the lower back and 17% for the upper back. Moreover, 12% of the stone sculptors reported an abnormal chest x-ray, 5% had silicosis and over 29% reported cough or cough with phlegm. The stone sculptors also reported that in the past 3 months 64% had an accident with the tools used on the job (power drills, grinders, saws and hand tools), 20% reported sharp injuries and 7% electric shocks.
Although most workers (93%) knew that silica dust could cause silicosis, use of controls was limited. Although 87% reported wearing a mask regularly, only 60% reported having an N95 respirator. Only 46% reported wearing eye protection regularly, only 27% reported using hearing protection regularly and only 17% used safety shoes. Therefore, an important initial step is further education and provision of adequate PPE at lower prices. In addition, introduction of engineering controls would help eliminate silica, ergonomic and safety hazards at the source.
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