Evaluating Health and Safety Practices In Sawmills: The Case of Naja David Veneer and Plywood (NDVP) Ltd., Kumasi

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Occupational accidents have been causing mortality, disability and diseases. Despite the effort made by the industrialised countries during their 150-year period of industrialization, occupational accidents are still among the most severe epidemics of modem society. In the 15 European Union countries, for example, 5 million occupational accidents occur each year, leading to 6,000 fatalities. According to the estimates of Dr. Jukka Takala of the ILO, the toll of the world’s total accident burden is much higher, 250 million accidents leading to 335,000 fatalities occur each year. The problem of occupational accidents corresponds in scale to the most serious epidemics of communicable diseases such as malaria and tuberculocusis. Even though occupational accident is still very high especially in developing countries including Ghana, however, information on occupational accident and its impact on the overall quality of life are not sufficient. In the light of this, this study was done to evaluate the health and safety practices in NDVP Ltd. at Kaase, Kumasi. The objective of the study was to identify those factors that are responsible for occupational accidents, the effect of these accidents on individuals and organisations, the training policy of the company, the culture of the company. Recommendations would be given on how occupational issues could be handled. The study was also to identify whether management and staff of NDVP adhere to health and safety practices. A descriptive study with cross- sectional design was used for the study. A total number of • 100 respondents from NDVP were purposively selected for the study comprising 80 junior staff and 20 management staff. Interview, observation and questionnaires were used as instruments to collect data for the study. — The findings of the study showed that; Problems that hampered smooth execution of safety procedures included cost, insufficient space, ignorance/negligence on the part of staff, non-adherence to safety rules and lack of experts. There was no scheduled maintenance of equipment and machinery but rather maintenance was only carried out when a machine breaks down. Employees were not involved in any decision that is made in relation to health and safety. Appropriate recommendations have been made to the management of the company (NDVP Ltd.) specifically and operators of sawmills in general to help improve on the health and safety practices in our Ghanaian sawmills towards reducing accident rates. Some of the recommendations were; Production planning should capture the strong seasonal trends of accidents in production scheduling and institute preventive programmes to minimise accidents in the company. There should be safety audits and inspections in the Processing and Maintenance Sections of the company. Intensive and aggressive educational programmes need to be embarked upon to deal with social factors and attractions that lead to increase in sawmills accidents. Management should punish workers who do not comply with safety guidelines and provisions. The company should discourage the employment of casual workers. Management or employers should provide all the necessary safety tools and equipment. In conclusion, it was realised that the culture, inadequate safety policy, lack of effective safety training were the factors that were highly responsible for accidents in the company.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Community Health, School of Medical Sciences, College of Health Sciences Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of MSc.degree in Health Services Planning and Management, 2004