Health problems among sawmill workers in Abakaliki and workplace risk assessment
Introduction: Sawmill workers are exposed to hazards and subsequent health problems. A workplace risk assessment and risk control measures will reduce morbidity and mortality. The objectives of this study are to identify health problems and carry out a workplace risk assessment among sawmill workers in Abakaliki.
Methodology: This is a descriptive cross sectional study. All workers who met the inclusion criteria were studied. Information on occupational history, health problems, awareness and usage of personal protective equipment was obtained using an interviewer administered semi structured questionnaire. Workplace risk assessment was carried out.
Result: Two hundred and four respondents were interviewed. Mean age was 29.3±9.6years, majority (93.1%) were males. The common health problems identified were injuries from log of wood (57.4%), Cough (47.5%), chest pain (42.1%), cut by machine (25%). Perceived worsening of health status since employment was reported by 95.4% of the respondents. Majority (69.6%) had worked in the sawmill for 2-5years and spend 8-10 hours at work (78.4%). Majority (85.3%) were aware of PPE, only 39.5% reported they had used them always. Hand glove (74.1%) was the most frequently used. Unawareness of PPE (29.8%), non-availability (21.1%) and cost (17.5%) were the commonest reasons for non-use. The major hazards identified in the workplace risk assessment were exposure to wood dust, unguarded moving parts of machinery, poorly designed workstations, poor housekeeping, fire hazards and noise. Risk control measures were inadequate.
Conclusion: The most prevalent health problems were respiratory symptoms and injuries. The workplace risk assessment showed that the work environment was not safety compliant.
Keywords: Sawmill Workers, Risk assessment, Health Problems