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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 58-64

Determinants of occupational health and safety: Knowledge, attitude, and safety practices toward occupational hazards of sawmill workers in Egor Local Government Area, Edo State

Department of Community Health, College of Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication5-Jul-2017

Correspondence Address:
Amenze O Onowhakpor
Department of Community Health, College of Medical Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Benin, Benin City PMB1154
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2384-5589.209487

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Background: Sawmilling operations involve a lot of manual handling which exposes the workers to numerous occupational health hazards, which can impact on their occupational health and safety. The knowledge, attitude and safety practices of sawmill workers are paramount for the mitigation and control of these hazards to ensure optimal health and safety. Objectives: This study assessed the knowledge, attitude and safety practices of sawmill workers towards occupational health hazards in Egor Local Government Area, Edo State. Materials and methods: A descriptive cross sectional study was carried out amongst 178 sawmills workers selected using stratified sampling technique. Structured interviewer’s administered questionnaires were used for data collection. Data was analysed with statistical package for scientific solutions version 21.0 software. Univariate and bivariate analysis were done and level of significance was set at P<0.05. Results: The mean age (standard deviation) of respondents was 34.69±9.91. One hundred and seventy five (98.3%) of the respondents were males. A majority 165 (92.7%) of the respondents were aware of dust and noise 160 (89.9%), as occupational hazards in sawmill. One hundred and forty eight (83.1%) of the respondents had positive attitude towards occupational health hazards in sawmill while almost three fifth 103 (57.9%) of the respondent had poor work safety practices. Conclusion: Majority of the sawmill workers had fair knowledge of occupational hazards and positive attitudes towards occupational hazards. However, poor safety practices were evident. There is need to improve the knowledge of sawmill workers in relation to occupational hazards and safety practices so as to mitigate its negative consequences.

Keywords: Occupational hazards, sawmill, workplace safety practices

How to cite this article:
Onowhakpor AO, Abusu GO, Adebayo B, Esene HA, Okojie OH. Determinants of occupational health and safety: Knowledge, attitude, and safety practices toward occupational hazards of sawmill workers in Egor Local Government Area, Edo State. Afr J Med Health Sci 2017;16:58-64

How to cite this URL:
Onowhakpor AO, Abusu GO, Adebayo B, Esene HA, Okojie OH. Determinants of occupational health and safety: Knowledge, attitude, and safety practices toward occupational hazards of sawmill workers in Egor Local Government Area, Edo State. Afr J Med Health Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Apr 18];16:58-64. Available from: http://www.ajmhs.org/text.asp?2017/16/1/58/209487

  Introduction Top

Sawmills exist in all regions of the world where wood is used for industrial purposes. Sawmill industries are a source of sawn wood, plywood, particle board, newsprint, and printing and writing paper, which are the most important wood products that are produced, consumed, and traded in Nigeria.[1],[2] Sawmills account for 93.32% of the total number of wood-based industries in Nigeria.[3]

In developing countries, work is becoming increasingly mechanized, and thus, workers are now used as tools in the production process, putting their health and lives at risk.[4] The job tasks of sawmill workers include log handling and debarking; the breakdown of logs into cants, slabs, and large boards; sawing cants and slabs into functional lumber sizes; grading; sorting; drying; planning; and processing the lumber for industrial specific uses with preservatives, fire retardants, or surface protection.[5],[6] Most of these tasks involve manual handling, exposing these workers to various occupational hazards daily in their workplace.

Among these occupational hazards are physical hazards such as noise, vibration, chemical hazards from exposure to pesticides used to control rodents and pests on wood, smoke and fumes from exhaust of chainsaw machinery, and wood preservatives. Biological hazards from exposure to microorganisms that grow on wood and can also cause potential health effects. Endotoxins from bacteria and allergenic fungi growing on wood are the main biohazards found in wood processing workplaces. Mechanical hazards, which include hazards such as slips, falls, crush injuries, and explosions, also account for a substantial amount of injuries sustained in sawmill industries.[5],[6] A 5-year survey conducted by health and safety inspectors analyzing machinery accidents in sawmilling revealed that the most common machine injuries were from the following: band saws (18%), cross-cut saws (14%), and other circular saws (11%).[7] Ergonomic hazards also constitute a major aspect of hazards among sawmill workers and may stem from lifting, repetitive work, and work posture.

Occupational hazards are, therefore, a major cause of disability and mortality among the working population globally. Occupational health risk has been reported as the 10th leading cause of morbidity and mortality all over the world.[8] In 1998, approximately 75% of the current global labor force was in developing countries, with about 50–70% of this population potentially exposed to heavy physical workload or poor working conditions, associated with lifting and moving of heavy items or repetitive manual tasks.[8] These hazards can be prevented or mitigated by controlling the occupational exposures using the hierarchy of controls as a means to implement feasible and effective control measures. The hierarchy of controls ranges from elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls, to finally the use of personal protective equipments (PPE) based on their effectiveness.[9] However, this study focused mainly on aspects of administrative control and use of PPEs.

This study, therefore, assessed the determinants of knowledge, attitude toward occupational health safety, and the safety practices of sawmill workers toward occupational hazards. The findings from this study revealed gaps in training and safety practices among the workers. This information will help plan targeted programs to improve the safety practices of the workers and, by so doing, reduce their risk to occupational hazards.

  Materials and Methods Top

A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among sawmill workers in registered sawmills in Egor Local Government Area (LGA) of Edo State, Nigeria between September 2014 and September 2015. Egor LGA is one of the 18 LGAs in Edo State and is divided into 10 administrative wards. The topography of the area is plain surface with fertile soil, which favors agriculture and logging activities. It has an area of 93 km2 with a total population of 340,287 and a projected population of 389,470 in 2015.[10] There are 21 registered sawmills in Egor LGA with an average number of 15 workers per sawmill.

Ethical clearance to conduct the study was obtained from the University of Benin Ethical Committee. Permission was obtained from the employers and owners of the sawmill industries before the administration of questionnaires. Informed verbal consent was duly sought from the respondents.

The minimum sample size was calculated using the Cochran’s formula for simple proportions for populations greater than 10,000[11] using a P value of 28.1%. This was the proportion of respondents who perceived dust to be a hazard in the work place in a study done among sawmill workers at Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.[12]

However, because the total number of sawmill workers in all sawmill industries in Egor LGA was 315, which is less than 10,000, the final sample size was adjusted using the appropriate formulae to 178, after also adjusting for nonresponse.

Respondents were selected using a stratified sampling technique. The sawmills were stratified based on administrative wards; thereafter, a proportional allocation using probability proportional to size was used to determine the number of sawmills to be utilized per ward. The sawmills utilized in each ward were then selected using simple random sampling (balloting), and all sawmillers in selected sawmills were recruited for the study. Data were collected using a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire adapted from a previous study. The questionnaire addressed the following areas: sociodemographic characteristics of respondents, knowledge of occupational hazards, attitude toward occupational hazards, and workplace safety practices.

Knowledge of occupational hazards was assessed using 11 questions. Correct responses were given a score of “1” whereas wrong answers were given a score of “0.” The scores were converted to percentage and classified as follows: good knowledge: >70.0%; fair knowledge: 50–70.0%; and poor knowledge: <50.0%.

Attitude toward occupational hazards among the sawmill workers was assessed with five questions using a 3-item Likert scale ranging from agree to disagree. Agree was scored “2,” indifferent was scored “1,” and disagree was scored “0.” The total score was converted to percentage and classified as follows: positive attitude: ≥50% and negative attitude: <50%.

Data were analyzed using the statistical package for scientific solutions the Social Sciences version 21 software. Univariate (using frequency tables) and bivariate (using chi-square test and Fischer’s exact test) analyses were done, and P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

  Results Top

Sixty-four (35.9%) of the respondents were aged 25–34 years, 51 (28.7%) were 35–44 years, and 30 (16.9%) were 15–24 years. One hundred and seventy-five (98.3%) respondents were men whereas 3 (1.7%) were women. One hundred and six (59.6%) respondents had secondary level of education, 59 (33.1%) had primary level, and 13 (7.3%) had none. As regards work experience, 156 (87.6%) of the respondents had less than 10 years of experience at work whereas 22 (12.4%) had above 10 years of experience [Table 1].
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics of respondents

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One hundred and sixty-five (92.7%) of the respondents were aware of occupation-related hazards in the sawmill industry whereas 13 (7.3) were unaware. Their source of information was mainly from friends, for 53 respondents (29.8%), and employer, for 50 respondents (28.1%). Among the respondents who were aware, 100% were aware of dust as an occupational hazard in sawmill, 160 (96.9%) were aware of noise as an hazard, and only 17 (16.4%), which was the least proportion, were aware of fungi and molds as hazards [Table 2].
Table 2: Awareness of occupation-related hazards among respondents

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Only 48 (27.0%) of the respondents had an overall good knowledge on occupational hazards whereas 129 (72.5%) of the respondents had fair knowledge, and only 1 (1.0%) had poor knowledge. The proportion of respondents with good knowledge decreased with increasing age (P = 0.002). Good knowledge of occupational hazards was observed to increase with increasing level of education (P = 0.133). Eighty-two (85.4%) of the respondents who were married had fair knowledge of occupational hazards (P = 0.011). Among respondents with 10 years or less of experience, 44 (28.2%) had good knowledge of occupational hazards; among those who had more than 10 years of experience, 4 (18.2%) (P = 0.071) had knowledge of occupational hazards [Table 3].
Table 3: Sociodemographic characteristics versus knowledge of occupational hazards among respondents

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A total of 178 (100.0.%), 166 (93.3%), 170 (95.5%), and 162 (91.0%) respondents, respectively, agreed that the use of PPE would prevent hazard, use of PPE was important, routine health evaluation was advisable, and smoking at work was not advisable [Table 4].
Table 4: Respondents’ attitudes toward occupational hazards

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One hundred and forty-eight (83.1%) of the respondents had positive attitude toward occupational hazards whereas 30 (16.9%) had negative attitude. Forty-five (88.2%) of the respondents between ages 35 and 44 years had a positive attitude toward occupational hazards (P ≤ 0.001). Eighty-two (85.4%) of the married respondents had a positive attitude toward occupational hazards (P = 0.191). Most of the respondents who had 10 years or less experience (135, 86.5%) had positive attitudes toward occupational hazards than those who had more than 10 years of experience (13, 59.1%) (P = 0.004) [Table 5].
Table 5: Sociodemographic characteristics versus attitude of respondents toward occupational hazards

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Eighty-seven (48.9%) of the respondents claimed that they used PPE. Forty (22.5%) respondents used gloves, 24 (13.5) said they used overalls, 31 (17.4%) used eye goggles, 15 (8.4%) used face shield, 55 (30.9%) used safety boots, and 17 (9.6%) respondents claimed to use ear muffs. Sixty-seven (37.6%) of the respondents said they washed their hands before work whereas 128 (71.9%) respondents did not wash their hands after work. One hundred and fifty-six (87.6%) respondents claimed that they adhered to safety range of sawmill equipment whereas 32 (18.0%) respondents claimed that they did routine medical examinations. Eighty-three (46.6%) of the respondents tided their working environment [Table 6].
Table 6: Workplace safety practices among respondents

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  Discussion Top

Majority of the respondents were aware of the term “occupation-related hazards,” and among them, all were aware that dust was an occupational hazard to sawmill workers, followed by noise, sprains, and strain. This was in contrast to a study done in Ilorin, Kwara State, in which all respondents perceived electric shock as an occupational hazard of sawmill workers followed by dust, by 72 (28.1%) respondents, and heat, by 67 (26.1%) respondents.[12] The findings were in agreement with other studies conducted in Opa, Ile-Ife and Kwara State, Nigeria where majority of the respondents, 90 (95.7%) and 138 (70.4%) respectively, were aware that dust was a hazard associated with the sawmill industry.[13],[14] Their main source of information was from their friends and employers. Similar findings were seen in Ilorin, where 47.5% of the workers obtained information from their employer.[12] This finding is in accordance with the Legge’s Aphorism, which states that “all workers should be told something of the danger of the material with which they come in contact, and not be left to find it out for themselves − sometimes at the cost of their lives.”[15] The fact that workers were aware of the hazard they were exposed to is a major step toward prevention of occupational hazards, as knowledge is expected to empower them to take necessary steps to protect themselves. This emphasizes the need for information dissemination to employee’s by their employers, especially information regarding the hazards they are exposed.

Majority of the sawmill workers studied had fair knowledge of occupational hazards. This finding is similar with a study done in Ile-Ife, which showed that majority of the respondents (58.5%) had fair knowledge of occupational health hazards in sawmill.[13] However, the findings were in contrast to that of another study conducted in Kwara State, which revealed that 61.5% of the respondents had a poor knowledge on occupation-related hazard.[14] Fair knowledge observed in this study among majority of the respondents may be attributed to the fact that over half of the sawmill workers in this study had secondary level of education. More so, majority of the workers in this study were aware of the work-related hazards they were being exposed to. This knowledge of occupational hazards may have resulted in a high level of awareness of health risks related to workers exposure to occupational hazards. Good knowledge will likely lead to adherence to the principles of hazards control in the working environment, which will reduce occupational accidents and injuries and should translate to increased productivity.

This study also revealed a significant association between age and knowledge of occupational hazards among respondents. With increasing age, workers tend to be more exposed, experienced, and aware of various occupational hazards. Similar findings were observed in relation to increasing level of education and knowledge of occupational hazards, the reason being that with increasing level of education, access to information tends to increase leading to a situation wherein workers become knowledgeable of the possible hazards they could encounter in the workplace.

An individual’s knowledge is interwoven with his/her attitude, and it oscillates between positive and negative. In addition, there is a direct relationship between knowledge and practice, because knowledge is a major determinant of practice.[16] Positive attitude toward occupational hazard and its prevention was observed among majority of the respondents. This will likely promote adherence to safety practices, as majority also had a fair knowledge on occupational hazards.[17] A study conducted in Lagos among workers in a pipeline products and marketing company also revealed that 85.2% of the workers had a positive attitude toward occupational hazards.[18] Another Nigerian study done in Osun State had similar findings, as 80% of the workers had a positive attitude toward occupational hazards and safety practices.[19] In Ghana, workers were willing to use safety devices in the prevention of occupational hazards in the workplace.[20] Knowledge will either lead to the development of positive or negative attitude as regards occupational hazard. However, knowledge is expected to bring about good safety practices.The use of PPEs was suboptimal, as less than half of the respondents claim that they used PPE at the workplace. This was in tandem with studies done in Ile-Ife and Ilorin in which 34.0% and less than 20% of the respondents, respectively, used protective devices.[12],[13] The findings were, however, in contrast with a study done in Kwara State, which revealed that 97.8% of the cement factory workers used PPEs.[21] Safety practice was equally poor among sawmill workers in Kota Bharu, Kelantan.[22] The importance of use of PPEs in the workplace cannot be overemphasized, as it supplements other control measures put in place to control hazards. In developing countries, its use is very important, as not much is invested in the other control measures.[17] The use of PPEs protects the workers from various forms of occupational hazards thereby preventing occupation-related injuries/diseases and or accidents; his will reduce the burden of disease and disability from these injuries or illness. The presence of these preventable health problems reduces the productivity of the workforce with its negative economic consequences. Furthermore, it imposes a burden on the worker, as financial resources are expended on healthcare, straining his limited financial resources and ability to cater for his family. Regular health education messages through seminars or workshop on the essence of adherence to safety practices is advocated among the study population as this may improve their practice and attitude, thereby reducing the occurrence of occupational hazards.

Majority of the sawmill workers had fair knowledge of occupational hazards and positive attitudes toward occupational hazards. Poor safety practices were also evident in this study. Continuous and sustained workplace training of sawmill workers on workplace hazards and the importance of adhering to hazard control measures are, therefore, advocated to maintain positive health.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]

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