DNA:Kinjal Desai :Wednesday, December 14, 2011.
Imagine working in a salt pan under the scorching sun or suffering from terrible wrist and back pain after dragging piles of salt with ill-designed equipment. This is what the agarias or salt pan workers of Gujarat have been going through.
The National Institute of Design (NID) has come forward to lend a helping hand. Senior ergonomist and faculty of interdisciplinary design studies at NID, Prof Subir Das, has designed six pieces of equipment generally used by salt pan workers taking the ergonomic aspects into consideration.
The project is known as 'Redesign of Hand tools for Salt Production Centre'. The six pieces of equipment include pick-axe (used for breaking piles of salt), hoa (to collect salt), dhantola, scrapper, roller and a basket to carry salt.
Prof Das said interacting with the workers helped bring their health issues to the fore. "Because of the traditional design of the equipment, majority of the labourers had developed wrist and back ache. So, we have developed the equipment with curvy handles. The new design puts less stress on their wrist and back," he said.
He also added that handles of the equipment were rough, heavy and designed in such a way that they needed the workers to bend their hand while dragging the piles of salt. "We rectified all these problems so that it is easy for the workers to drag salt piles or prepare salt bed. In fact, in one of the pieces of equipment we have created a sitting space that will allow the worker to carry his child in the salt pan field," said Prof Das.
"Also, we have given better grip to the basket making it easy for workers to hold it," said Prof Das, adding that they have also suggested providing proper head and foot gear to them.