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A day in the life: Using contextual interviews to understand the health of home-based Mapuche weavers

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posted on 20.07.2022, 18:56 authored by Gabriela Gracia, Alison Guzman, Linda ForstLinda Forst
The craft sector employs 305 million people worldwide, primarily women, rural and home-based workers. Home-based weavers, an understudied workforce, are subject to a range of hazards and adverse health effects related to their weaving work and domestic responsibilities (e.g., housework, farm work, childcare, eldercare). The Mapuche represent Chile’s largest Indigenous group with about 20 percent residing in the Araucanía region, where agriculture and tourism, including craftwork, are important sources of income. Using a purposive sampling approach, we conducted Spanish-language contextual interviews (N = 10) with Mapuche weavers across four communities, allowing us to observe participants in their home settings, watching them weave and discussing tasks, decision-making, and behaviors during the work process. Participants ranged in age from 29–55 years. A combination of semi-structured, audio-recorded interviews, videos, photographs and written observations yielded a time-wheel of a typical day for each weaver; the types of weaving and non-weaving work (including hours per day); workspace visuals; self-reported health problems, causes and treatments; exposure hazards; and potential ergonomic interventions. In addition to weaving, housework (n = 10), farm work (n = 7), wool production (n = 7), natural and chemical dyeing (n = 7) and child-rearing (n = 4) were identified as work activities. The most commonly cited weaving-related health problems were eyestrain (n = 7) and pain in the back (n = 6), shoulder (n = 5), arm (n = 4), hand (n = 4), neck (n = 3), wrist (n = 3) and fingers (n = 3). When asked to identify potential improvements to their weaving workspace, participants identified the need to having a dedicated workspace for weaving (n = 7), improving their existing workspace with better seating (n = 4), lighting (n = 3), insulation (n = 2) and increasing the size of their workspace (n = 2). This methodology, blending traditional occupational health tools with qualitative methods, was instrumental in understanding the range of hazards associated with home-based work and identifying potential ergonomic interventions for this global workforce.


Occupational Safety And Health, ERC, University Of Illinois At Chicago E5216/E3851 | Funder: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Grant ID: T42OH008672



Gracia, G., Guzman, A.Forst, L. (2022). A day in the life: Using contextual interviews to understand the health of home-based Mapuche weavers. PLOS Global Public Health, 2(5), e0000353-.


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