Physiological assessment of occupational work load of washermen in relation to age

Article Type

Research Article

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Biomedicine (India)


Introduction and Aim: Long working hours coupled with limited rest pauses in manual labour intensive jobs result in cardiovascular strain and contribute to cardiovascular morbidity particularly for older workers. The present study was aimed at physiological assessment of workload in terms of heart rate and cardiac strain indices among the washermen community, as till date, no such occupational health studies have been conducted among this unorganized community in the Indian context. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was conducted among full time 42 male washermen. The study was conducted in two phases. Identification of main activities, time study of activity patterns and physiological assessment of workload entailed in the whole shift was performed in the first phase. Physiological reactions connected with main activities were evaluated in the second phase. Results: The overall workload entailed in the whole work shift appeared to be moderate for both young and older workers with mean working heart rates varying between 96 – 98 beats/min with corresponding relative cardiac costs (RCC) between 17 – 24 %. The RCC for older subjects inactivity period was significantly higher than the younger counterpart, nevertheless, the duration of activity was similar. Among individual activities washing and cleaning appeared to be most strenuous with RCC between 32% – 40 %. Conclusions: Prolonged working hours with limited leisure time, a higher level of self-chosen work pace with inadequate rest schedules, appeared to be major risks factors for cardiovascular morbidity for washermen.

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