Exposure to occupational health hazards among Zambian workers
Background Data on occupational safety and health in Southern Africa are scant. Hence the negative impact of poor working conditions is unknown and the scientific basis for interventions and policy formulation is lacking. Aims To determine the prevalence of, and factors associated with, exposure to occupational health hazards in Zambia. Methods We used data collected in the 2009 National Labour Force Survey. Unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios and their 95% confidence intervals were used to measure magnitudes of associations. Results Exposure to occupational hazards among the 64 119 respondents (response rate = 78%) included vibration from hand tools or machinery (3%), temperatures that make one perspire even when not working (4%), low temperatures whether indoors or outdoors (4%), smoke, fume, powder or dust inhalation (13%), pesticides (3%), noise so loud that voice had to be raised to talk to people (4%), chemical handling or skin contact (3%) and exposure to heavy object lifting, frequent bending of the back or rapid movement of limbs causing body pain (30%). In multivariate analysis, exposure to occupational health hazards was associated with older age, male sex, low educational level, being married/cohabiting and not being self-employed. Conclusions Results from this study indicate that Zambian workers are exposed to a broad range of occupational health hazards. This could be useful for the formulation of a multi-sector approach aimed at the prevention and control of hazard exposure.