Occupational hazards and health problems reported by workers in a Sawmill in Uyo, Nigeria


Ofonime Effiong Johnson, Queen Malachy Umoren

Introduction: Sawmill workers in Nigeria are exposed to many workplace hazards and avoidable health problems. Thisstudy was carried out to determine the perceived hazards and health problems among workers in a sawmill in Uyo, Nigeria.Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out in February 2018 among workers in a sawmill in Uyo. Information obtained using an interviewer-administered questionnaire included work history, occupational hazards, health problems, and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) among the wood workers. Data were analyzed with IBM SPSS Statistics 20 software. Inferences were made using the chi-square test. Level of significance was set at 0.05.Result: A total of 127 respondents participated in the study. The mean age of respondents was 35.14 ± 11.38 years. A majority of 124 (97.6%) were males and 76 (59.8%) had completed secondary level of education. A majority of 92 (72.4%) worked for 8–10 hours daily and 54 (42.5%) had worked for >10 years. Occupational hazards reported were dust, 94 (74.0%), noise 93 (73.2%), vibration 62(48.8%), and heat 60 (47.2%). Health problems included injuries 54 (42.5%), low back pain 52 (40.9%), cough 45 (35.4%), and eye irritations 34 (26.8%). Cough was significantly associated with the number of work years (p < 0.05). The most commonly used PPEs were face masks 17 (13.4%) and goggles 13 (10.2%).Conclusion: Despite the hazards and health problems reported by the workers, the use of PPE was poor. Legislation such as the Occupational Safety and Health Framework Directive which obliges employers to take appropriate preventive measures to make work safer and healthier should be enforced in all sawmills. Health and safety training and occupational health services should also be provided for sawmill workers to ensure a healthier workforce.