Poland – Safer and healthier work at any age: the case of a Polish sewing plant (Dartex)
DARTEX is a small sewing plant with 14 female employees working five-day single shifts. Repetitive tasks, performed seated, increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Safety and health issues impacted on productivity and customer satisfaction, as well as sickness-absence. In addition to legally-required medical checks, assessment of individual workstations led to improvements in work organisation, layout and equipment, reducing repetitive strain. External consultants advised on lighting and machinery changes to minimise eyestrain, and exposure to noise and vibration. Improved work organisation reduced accidents to zero and reduced MSDs, while increased precision resulted in a 70% reduction in customer complaints. Monthly audits ensure continued focus on OSH issues. Success factors include awareness of OSH issues, employer commitment, worker involvement and use of external experts. Challenges were experienced initially in convincing employees of the benefits of change but were soon overcome. While the solutions are industry-specific, the cooperative, practical approach which brings solid business benefits, is widely transferable.