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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Int J Env Health Eng 2022,  11:6

Analysis of Human Discomfort due to Thermal and Respiratory Factors in a Foundry Environment


Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science Engineering, Noida International University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission13-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance27-May-2022
Date of Web Publication29-Nov-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shanmuganathan Appukutti
Noida International University, Gautham Buddha Nagar, Noida - 203 201, Uttar Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijehe.ijehe_17_21

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  Abstract 


Aim: The purpose of this article is to analyze subjective self-evaluation of thermal and respiratory discomfort experienced by workers in the foundry industry. Materials and Methods: One hundred and sixty-one workers aged 18–55 years participated in this study. Discomfort due to high temperatures, hot work, skin rashes, cramps, fatigue, weakness, respiratory problems, and inhalation was subjectively evaluated by the questionnaire survey. The questionnaire is validated, and Cronbach's alpha test and Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin's test are applied to ensure data reliability and adequacy. Results: The results indicated that the highest and lowest percentage of workers experiencing at least one discomfort is 86% and 4%, respectively. Furthermore, 11 out of 19 discomfort factors scored above the average thermal and respiratory discomfort score of 2.5 on the scale of 5. Conclusion: According to this study outcome, more exploration is needed on the relationship among thermal and respiratory discomfort and its effect on the workers in the foundry environment.

Keywords: Discomfort, foundry, respiratory, thermal, workers


How to cite this article:
Appukutti S, Sharma N. Analysis of Human Discomfort due to Thermal and Respiratory Factors in a Foundry Environment. Int J Env Health Eng 2022;11:6

How to cite this URL:
Appukutti S, Sharma N. Analysis of Human Discomfort due to Thermal and Respiratory Factors in a Foundry Environment. Int J Env Health Eng [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Feb 7];11:6. Available from: https://www.ijehe.org/text.asp?2022/11/1/6/362226




  Introduction Top


In the present-day manufacturing scenario, manufacturing companies are continuously striving for improvement, leading to increased effectiveness. One such way of achieving manufacturing effectiveness is by employing world-class manufacturing strategies, for example, lean manufacturing and total productive maintenance. The world-class manufacturing strategies focus on the processes involved in manufacturing. However, the effectiveness of the organization depends not only on the processes involved in the organization but also relates to some discomfort factors, that is, the state of the workforce, more specifically to health and safety of the workers.[3],[7],[8],[9] As discomfort in a work environment directly affects the health of employees and minimizes their quality of health and performance at work, it has become a risk factor in an industrial environment, if not controlled, could lead to various manufacturing complications affecting productivity. Therefore, there is a need to study and analyze the factors that causes discomfort and suggest ways of eliminating and/or minimizing discomfort to employees. Research have been carried out on discomfort analysis across various industries. One of the most important sectors in the manufacturing is foundry (metal casting) industry and the research carried out on discomfort in the foundry industry is fairly low. India's foundry industry, which is the third-biggest foundry industry globally in terms of production capacity (10 million tonnes in FY16) after China (40 million tonnes) and the US (11 million tonnes), has an installed capacity of 15 million tonnes per year. Many workers are based their employment in the foundry industry. In this background, this discomfort study was carried out in the foundry industry.

In a foundry environment, the workers are subjected to hot temperatures and respiratory problems and this leads to discomfort in the body of the workers. The workers are required to work in a posture for a prolonged duration, which give rise to distress in their body.[10],[13],[14],[15],[16] At present, many workers are employed in the foundry industry globally and this article is intended at studying the level of thermal and respiratory discomfort experienced by some workers employed in foundry environment. The aim of this study is to analyze the thermal and respiratory discomfort in the foundry workers. The results of this study shall be employed in formulating an action plan to prevent the occurrence of factors causing thermal and respiratory discomfort, thereby improving the health and safety level of the workers and working environment.


  Materials and Methods Top


Workers (subjects)

The study was carried out by utilizing the inputs from 161 workers employed in the foundry industry. The age of the workers participated in the study was ranging between 18 and 55 years, with the average age of workers being 36.18 years and a standard deviation of 8.44 years. The mean height of the workers was 165.12 cm with a standard deviation of 7.85 cm, and the mean weight of the participating workers was 63.98 kg with a standard deviation of 9.17 kg. The working experience of the workers in the foundry industry was 7.06 ± 5.33 years. The details of the workers involved as subjects in the study are provided in [Table 1].
Table 1: Characteristics of the workers (subjects) participated in the study

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The workers engaged themselves in the present study on their own interest. Before the study, the supervisors and the workers were explained the purpose of this study. In general, the production was planned in one shift of 8 h. The normal working day of 8 h was divided into two short 10 min breaks and one 30 min break.

Methods

A questionnaire was employed as the data collection instrument in this study to capture the responses from the participants. The questionnaire consisted of 60 items, including a human body diagram to specify the parts of the body [Annexure 1]. The questionnaire is validated by panel of experts for its contents and standards. Out of these 60 questions, 14 and 5 questions about the incidence of thermal and respiratory discomfort, respectively, were present in the questionnaire. In addition, some more factors were identified from the literature, leading to thermal and respiratory discomfort. Some of these factors are namely, high temperatures, hot work, skin rashes, cramps, fatigue due to heat, weakness due to heat, and respiratory and inhalation problems. The questions on the above factors were also present in the questionnaire. The workers indicated their responses on Likert scale of 1 (no discomfort) to 5 (high discomfort). The scale of 1–5 was maintained constant throughout the questionnaire. However, the intensity corresponding to the scale 1–5 is not constant throughout the questionnaire. For example, for the factor “work near hot machines or hot equipment or hot surfaces for a long time” and “inhalation fever due to fumes, gases, and dust in the workplace,” several times a day is considered as high discomfort and given the rating of five in the scale, whereas for the factor “intake of water during work” and “undergoing pulmonary function test,” rarely or never in a day is considered as high discomfort and given the rating of five in the scale. The responses from the workers were collected at the workplace.

Data reliability, appropriateness, and adequacy tests

The reliability, appropriateness, and adequacy of the data are analyzed and justified by performing two tests, Cronbach's alpha test for data reliability and Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin's test for data appropriateness.

The data collected through the questionnaire study were subjected to Cronbach's alpha test. The Cronbach's alpha is one of the globally accepted measures of indicating the reliability of the data. Cronbach's alpha is calculated by correlating the score for each scale item with the total score for each observation (usually individual subjects), and then relating the same to the variance for all individual item scores.

Cronbach's alpha is given by Equation 1.



where: “k” refers to the number of scale items

“σ2yi” refers to the variance associated with item “i”

“σ2x” refers to the variance associated with the observed total scores

Cronbach's alpha ranges from 0 to 1, indicating the reliability of the measured data. If Cronbach's alpha is 0, it means that there exists no relation among the data, and if Cronbach's alpha is 1, it means that data are correlated to each other. Generally, Cronbach's alpha < 0.5 is highly unacceptable and Cronbach's alpha between 0.65 and 0.8 or higher is recommended.[17]

Cronbach's alpha calculation for the data collected in the present study was calculated using the statistical package available in Microsoft Excel. The Cronbach's alpha for the data collected from this study was 0.97253. This Cronbach's alpha indicates that the data collected through this study are reliable and shall be subjected to statistical analyses.

The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin's (KMO) value is used to determine the appropriateness of the data sets for factor analysis; a value >0.6 represents an acceptable condition.[6] KMO value ranges from 0 to 1, indicating the appropriateness of the data. If KMO value is 0, it means that there exists no appropriateness of data, and if KMO value is 1, it means that there exists appropriateness of data. Generally, KMO value <0.6 is highly unacceptable and KMO value more than 0.6 is acceptable.[6] The test measures sampling adequacy for each variable in the complete model. As both Cronbach's alpha test value and Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin's test value are above acceptable conditions of 0.5 and 0.6, it indicates that the collected data are reliable and adequate for subjecting to a factor analysis.


  Results Top


Responses from the subjects

The data collected from the subjects are analyzed, and the total number of responses against each thermal and respiratory discomfort factor, along with the rating, is presented in [Table 2].
Table 2: Thermal discomfort factors and their occurrence among the subjects

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  Discussion Top


Although studies have been conducted previously on thermal and respiratory factors considering variables such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon gaseous particles,[4] pneumoconiosis[1] and silicosis among foundry workers,[2],[5],[12] the limitations of the previous studies were obvious that the other variables in thermal and respiratory factors affecting health of workers in foundry environment were yet to be explored and studied for a healthier working environment in foundry industries. This study has elaborated on the other variables in thermal and respiratory factors affecting the health of foundry workers, wherein 19 variables, of which 14 variables contributing to thermal factors and 5 to respiratory factors, were studied as indicated in [Table 2] and [Table 3]. On the other hand, unfortunately, the number of researches done on discomfort in the foundry industry due to heat is very few.[11] This study incorporated sufficient variables of thermal factors in comparison to previous studies for better understanding of thermal discomforts among foundry workers. As mentioned earlier, the total number of participants in the present study was 161 and the result indicated that 78% of the workers are experiencing “high temperatures in work” and 70% of the workers are affected by “prolonged cough” almost every day. Similarly, 68% of the workers are experiencing “loss of consciousness and coordination, dizziness, confusion, irritating behavior, and seize due to heat at work” almost every day due to their work nature. The workers are also subjected to discomfort due to “weakness or fatigue due to heat.” Almost 66% of the workers are working under fatigue. About 86% of workers also complain that they are not subjected to “pulmonary function test” to identify respiratory problems. Similarly, other variables in thermal and respiratory discomfort factors are analyzed, and it is apparent that workers in a foundry environment are experiencing thermal and respiratory discomfort almost every day. This led to the computation of the average discomfort score among the subjects. The average thermal and respiratory discomfort scores for the workers are provided in [Table 4]. From [Table 4], it is noted that, in 11 out of 19 factors, the thermal and respiratory discomfort score is greater than the average score, i.e., 2.5 out of 5. This indicates a condition where the workers are experiencing discomfort almost every day. Furthermore, the workers are not only subjected to one discomfort at a time but also many. This analysis indicates that thermal and respiratory discomfort is highly prevalent among workers in the foundry environment. This study also identifies and reveals the various reasons for thermal discomfort as: employees always get exposed to high temperatures at work, employees work near hot equipment, hot machines, hot surfaces for a long time, and employees with weak health are prone to various health issues arising from the heat at foundry industry, like, fatigue, weakness, and blurred vision.The various reasons that are identified for respiratory discomfort are: dusts, fumes and silica gas, female gender being more prone to respiratory health hazards in foundry industries, poor health condition of employees, and poor exhaust system in the foundry environment. The health hazards due to thermal and respiratory factors in the foundry industry could be minimized/eliminated by: using thermal insulating clothes and safety equipment, reducing the time span of a worker working in the furnace and hot equipment, which could be made possible through job rotation, continuous rehydration of the body, preventing workers with weak health to work in the furnace area, proper ventilation and usage of exhaust fans as per standards at appropriate locations, usage of standard respiratory safety equipment by all workers, providing effective safety training to foundry workers and implementing the usage of safety equipment always at work, minimizing/avoiding female workers in molten metal pouring and fettling operations, and avoiding the employment of physically weak/unfit workers in foundry industries.
Table 3: Respiratory discomfort factors and their occurrence among the subjects

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Table 4: Thermal and respiratory discomfort score of the subjects

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  Conclusion Top


From this study, it is concluded that at least 4% of workers (the lowest percentage of workers) are subjected to “skin suffering from red rashes due to heat” and “less intake of water during work” in the foundry environment, 86% of workers (the highest percentage of workers) were never subjected to pulmonary function test, and an average of 56.1% of workers were subjected to discomfort due to 19 thermal and respiratory discomfort factors in foundry environment, of which 11 factors are highly inducing thermal and respiratory discomfort among workers in the foundry environment. Thus, this study clearly indicates the existence of thermal and respiratory discomfort among foundry workers and the high level of discomfort experienced by them.

Ethics code

The manuscript, in part or in full, has not been submitted or published anywhere. The manuscript will not be submitted elsewhere until the editorial process is completed. If any part of the manuscript contains previously published content (figures/tables), authors should submit a statement of permission to reproduce the material signed by the author(s) and publishers concerned.

Acknowledgment

We are very grateful to all foundry industries for the support and exceptional cooperation extended during this research study. Our sincere thanks to the foundry industries for arranging exclusive interview sessions with their employees for this research study. We are greatly appreciative of the employees for being so honest and truthfulness during the interview session. We are also much thankful to the foundry industries for providing the relevant data from their registration files.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

The authors, Dr. Shanmuganathan Appukutti and Dr. Neeta Sharma, declare that there is no conflict of interest and also they certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers' bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or nonfinancial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge, or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.





 
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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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