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Background: The processing of cassava into Gari comes with a lot of environmental as well as occupational hazards to the processors, and even the consumers. This study aimed at describing the occupational hazards, health problems and peak expiratory flow rate [PEFR] of local gari processors in a rural community in Nigeria.
Methods: This descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in Oghara, Delta State and data were collected using pre-tested semi-structured questionnaires. Utilizing the multi-stage sampling technique, 400 questionnaires were administered to the gari processors who consented. The Peak Flow Meter was used to determine the respiratory status of respondents. Data were analyzed using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) version 16.
Results: The mean age of the respondents was 27.6 ± 13.2 years and they were mostly females (237, 59.2%). Majority (265, 66.2%) of respondents were aware of hazards in Gari processing and the factors significantly associated with awareness among the respondents were age (p=0.021), sex (p=0.010) and educational level (p=0.017). Majority (241, 60.2%) was not aware of protective measures against the hazards they face at work and also more than two-thirds of the respondents had never used personal protective devices. Cuts (338, 84.5%) and puncture wounds (294, 73.5%) were the most common injuries sustained by respondents. Also (273, 68.2%) has ever sustained injuries while frying/roasting gari. The Mean Peak Expiratory Flow for respondents was 304.4 ± 72.5L/min. Bivariate analysis showed no significant association between PEFR and age, sex and duration of involvement in Gari processing.
Conclusion: The study revealed high level of awareness about occupational hazards but poor occupational safety practices among the respondents. There was a high prevalence of injuries among the respondents and their mean Peak Expiratory Flow rate was below normal. Health education of this group of workers about hazards and occupational safety practices is strongly recommended.
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