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Ergonomic chair: Unilorin’s gift to Aso-Oke weavers
ASO-OKE is the traditional cloth which has been woven for centuries by the people of Ilorin in Kwara State and for which they are renowned. The traditional cloth weavers have since contributed to the economic and social life of the city. Thus cloth weaving is the most important occupation of the inhabitants of the city.
However, despite the popularity of this occupation and its enormous contribution to the development of the city and those involved in the business in various parts of the country and beyond, little had been done to study the health status, and more importantly, the health problems that this occupational group is prone to. It was the realization of this dearth of information on these workers that necessitated the conduct of a study on their health problems in 2002 by a lecturer in the University of Ilorin, Dr. A. O. Awoyemi, an environmental and occupational health physician.
From the study conducted, two publications emerged in 2002 and 2003; Ergonomic Problems Associated with Musculo-Skeletal Disorders Amongst Traditional Cloth Weavers in Ilorin, Nigeria and Occupational Health Problems Associated with Traditional Cloth Weaving in Ilorin,
Health problems identified in the study were many and varied but it was found that 60 per cent of them were muscular-skeletal in nature.
Further analysis of the data showed that neck strain, low backache and shoulder pains were very common among them. In the course of the investigation, it was recommended that to relieve the workers of these problems, a prototype chair should be designed for them. Specifically, this chair should, among other features, have a backrest which was noticed to be absent on the seats which the weavers had been using.
This was believed by the don to be responsible for the high prevalence of backache. About 13 months ago, the articles came to the notice of the Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Is'haq Oloyede, who suggested that a workshop be conducted for traditional cloth weavers in Ilorin to acquaint them with their health problems and to find out other problems which they might have and which the university community might assist them with.
Thus, on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, a one-day health workshop, titled, “Health Awareness Workshop for Traditional Cloth Weavers” was organised by the Centre for Research Development and In-House Training (CREDIT) of the University of Ilorin for the traditional cloth weavers in the country.
The workshop, put together through the collaborative efforts of the Faculties of Clinical Sciences, Engineering and Technology, and Education, aimed at increasing the productivity of the residents of the university host community, Ilorin, whose main occupation is traditional cloth weaving.
Prior to the workshop, a meeting was held with two representatives of the traditional cloth weavers in July 2011 at Okelele community, Ilorin. These were Alhaji Olarewaju one of the leaders of the cloth weavers and Alhaji Isiaka Aberi, who introduced the academics to the leader. The traditional cloth weavers were happy at the meeting and the prospect of interacting with the university community. They could easily see the benefits that could accrue to them from the interaction and hoped that the university too would derive some benefits from it.
The meeting was organized by Dr. A. O. Awoyemi of the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, College of Health Sciences and Dr. Adegun of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Among others, the purpose of the workshop was to introduce the traditional cloth weavers to the health problems encountered in the industry.
It was also to introduce the prototype of the ergonomic chair being proposed for the industry to the weavers, determine in what other ways the university could assist them in solving their health problems, involve the Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Engineering in further assisting the Ilorin cloth weavers in their activities, involve other faculties in improving the working conditions or materials and equipment of traditional cloth weavers and further improve the town and gown relationship in Ilorin by enhancing the participation of both communities in common projects.
In attendance were principal officers of the university, deans, directors and other members of the university community as well as traditional cloth weavers from Ilorin, Oyo, Ibadan, Iseyin and Offa, among other places.
Traditional cloth weavers were introduced to exercises that would be beneficial to the weavers, use of ergonomic chair, just as questions and answers were conducted.
Speaking at the event, Professor Oloyede urged universities in the country to embark on collaborative researches that could accelerate the socio-economic development of their host communities and alleviate the poverty level of their residents rather than focusing solely on academic pursuits.
The Vice Chancellor, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Bayo Lawal, recalled that some 10 to 20 years ago, most academic researches were essentially for the benefit of the academics and advocated that because of the current realities, more of such research collaboration among faculties in the university should be carried out for the benefit of the host community.
Speaking in Yoruba for the benefit of the traditional cloth weavers who turned out in large numbers at the workshop, the Vice Chancellor said that the workshop was organised to provide community service programmes to the university's host communities, noting that this would in turn increase the productivity of the people, improve their economy and alleviate poverty in the society.
In his presentation at the workshop, Professor A.O. Awoyemi of the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health said a health problem which he identified as “musculo-skeletal disorder” was rampant among cloth weavers, pointing out that this accounted for about 62 per cent of their health problems.
Speaking on the topic “Occupational Health Problems Associated with Traditional Cloth Weaving in Ilorin”, the don said that prolonged sitting, frequent bending, and lack of adequate rest made ailments like waist pain and back ache rampant among traditional cloth weavers, disclosing that this was what made the Faculty of Engineering and Technology to design the ergonomic chair to ease the health problems of the weavers.
He stated that with the enhanced features of the ergonomic chair, an innovative technology employed in weaving the traditional cloth, such health problems would be significantly reduced.
Responding on behalf of the traditional cloth weavers, the chairman of the association, Alhaji Isiaka Abere, commended the efforts of the university in promoting the welfare of the traditional cloth weavers.
He particularly expressed appreciation to the academics for coming up with the ergonomic chair, which he believed would enhance the productivity of the weavers.
The high point of the event was the unveiling of a prototype ergonomic chair by lecturers in the Faculty of Engineering and Technology.
Moving the vote of thanks, the Dean of the Faculty of Education, Prof. A. S. Olorundare, commended the weavers for turning out in large numbers to attend the workshop.
He expressed appreciation to the Vice Chancellor for his support, and to the collaborating faculties for their input in making the workshop a success.Share