Occupational health and safety of the informal service sector in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Area

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The informal sector in Sub-Saharan Africa has become a growing source of employment for large numbers of youth, and also for older workers pursuing entrepreneurial goals and others adjusting to structural changes in the region’s employment. Most informal activities are flexible, insecure, and hazardous and take place in unhealthy and unsafe environment. Ghana’s annual occupational injury rates are about 11.5 injuries/1,000 persons in the urban areas and 44.9/1,000 in the rural areas. The study therefore seeks to examine the nature and operations of the informal service sector and the key health and safety risks associated with the sector. It also seeks to assess the economic costs of the injuries and diseases and the interventions put in place by government, employers, and employees and finally make recommendations to inform policy. With the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Area as a case study, 440 employers and employees made up of Drivers, Beauticians, Mechanics and Porters were interviewed. Data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Scientist (version 17). Other source of data was basically secondary specifically from books, journals and other relevant publications. The study revealed that the total economic costs of injuries and diseases among informal service workers in STMA was GH11,691.9 for the year 2010 and workers were exposed to a range of physical, ergonomic, chemical and psycho-social hazards. Despite these costs and level of exposure to hazards, 62.3 percent of the respondents had not registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme. Concerning Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the survey revealed a collaborative effort between both employers and employees in their provision. It was also realised that Ghana has no Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policy and the activities of OHS institutions were limited to the formal sector to the neglect of the informal sector and no compensations were paid to the workers in the sector. Furthermore, OHS institutions were under-resourced in terms of human resource and other logistics which hindered their service delivery even to the formal sector. It is therefore recommended that an OHS policy is formulated and intensive education through the media, undertaken to sensitize workers on their work environment and the level of risk exposure as well as the need to register under the NHIS. There is also the need for effective collaboration between all OHS institutions to ensure workers use the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to prevent injuries.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning