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Title: Occupational health related problems and safety practices among small-scale gold miners in the Wassa West District of the Western Region
Authors: Dorgbetor, George Kobla
Issue Date: 8-Nov-2005
Series/Report no.: 4036;
Abstract: Small-scale Mining, a phenomenon in the informal sector employs over 13 million people globally with between 80 million and 100 million people depending on it for their livelihood. Excessive small-scale gold mining degrade the land making farming and its related activities very difficult. The use of chemicals in the mining activities generates several hazards, which affect the health of the miners and the entire community. Occupational lung disease: Tuberculosis, Silicosis, STIs. 1-1W/AIDS, widespread prostitution and alcoholism, and occupational injuries are some common health problems that affect the miners and the entire community. The research was on occupational health and safety practices among small-scale miners in the Wassa West District and involved a cross-sectional descriptive study that took place from June to September 2004. The study was conducted in two sections; thus qualitative involving exploratory study using participant observation and Focus Group Discussion (FGD), and quantitative involving a period of five- years (2000 — 2004) hospital records of small-scale gold miners reviewed at ABA hospital, which records about 70 percent of miners in the district Structured questionnaire was used to collect data from the small-scale gold miners. Results from the study show that; A little over half, 75 (55.6%) of 135 small-scale gold miners within have suffered occupational diseases and 46.6% have suffered occupational injuries for 10 years Almost all of small-scale miners (97.8%) had reported with Malaria over the last one year. Whereas 85.9% and 42.2% of the respondents had suffered from back pain and skin diseases respectively. Tuberculosis (2.2%), Asthma (5.2%), Hernia (2.6%), Sprain and Strain (18.5%) Among the occupational diseases and injuries diagnosed in the district are silicosis, silicotuherculosis, pneumonia, mercurial dermatitis, nystagmus, noise-induced hearing loss (1 %), musculo-skeletal disorders (1 2%), heat cramps, repetitive stress, and strain injuries. Major causes of occupational diseases and injuries among the small-scale miners were; exposure to chemicals, metallic poisoning, poor ventilation, over-exertion, falling stones or rocks, cave-in, slipping and flying objects. • 88.1% of the miners do not wear safety boot, and only 12.6% wear gloves, 10.4% wear helmet with raincoat accounting for 3%. A little over a third of the respondents (70.4%) and 15.6% use torchlight and nose cover respectively during their operations. The chemicals that small-scale miners are exposed to and or use include; mercury, nitric acid, dynamite (nitrous fume), carbon monoxide and dust (free crystalline silica) • 87.4% of the miners use mercury and 54.8% use Nitric acid every day. 135(100.0%) are exposed to dust (free crystalline silica) and 135 (100.0%) expose to noise with a period of between 8 and 24 hours. • The mining and processing of the gold are done using simple hand-held tools such as; chisel, pick axes, hoes, for digging, shovels for lading and sacks head pans and wheelbarrows for transporting the ore. The gold bearing hard rock’s carried from underground or surface of the earth are crushed into fine ore using metallic mortars, pestles and hammers • The small-scale miners amalgamate the gold baring ore with bare hand hands by rubbing fresh mercury into the ore, which is heated in an open charcoal fire to vaporize the mercury. The miners were exposed to free crystalline silica which has the potential of causing silicosis and silicotuberculosis and other respiratory diseases. Exposure to mercury affects the nervous system, speech and hearing impairment and gait deformities. Notwithstanding these conditions, small-scale miners engage in mining activities without adequate protection. In conclusion, occupational diseases and injuries are major health problems among the small-scale gold miners in the district and therefore needed to be given much attention.
Description: A thesis presented to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of a Master of Science degree (MSc.), 2005
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/1662
Appears in Collections:College of Health Sciences

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