Determinants of Occupational Injuries among Workers in Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining Activities in Ka-Kamega County, Kenya
Makokha, Winnie Rabera
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Occupational injury is any bodily damage, that may be fatal or non-fatal in nature, resulting from a work-related accident. Though preventable, these injuries have resulted in serious socio-economic consequences that have been described as a major public health problem. In artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM), occupational injuries are one of the many health concerns. Indeed, ASGM has been in existence in various parts of Kenya for decades including in Rosterman, Kakamega County. Despite ASGM being a common eco-nomic activity, health and safety concerns, such as occupational injuries have yet to be documented and addressed adequately. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of occupational injuries, assess the level of knowledge on health and safety among workers in ASGM, assess the application of organizational and regulatory frame-works in health and safety in ASGM and to determine risk factors associated with the in-juries among workers engaging in ASGM in Rosterman, Kakamega County, Kenya. This study employed a descriptive cross-sectional study design and stratified proportionate sam-pling was used as a sampling technique. A total of 313 ASGM workers were interviewed alongside six key informants. Interviewer-administered electronic based questionnaires, interview guides, observation checklists and photography, were used to collect the data. The questionnaires were administered through the Open Data Kit platform. The data anal-ysis was done using the Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) version 22. The relationship between independent and dependent variables was determined using chi-squared tests. Significant factors were analyzed further using logistic regression and ex-pressed as odds ratio. The study found that prevalence of occupational injuries was 44.73 % with the most affected body parts being hands and upper and lower limbs at 62.14% and 30% respectively. Hand injuries were reported to be the most severe at 45%. Occupational injuries were significantly associated with having an alternative source of income (p=0.019), alcohol consumption (p=0.027), personal safety culture (p=0.007), using ham-mer or mallet (p=0.002), using pick axe (p=0.036), excavating (p=0.042) and wearing pro-tective boots (p=0.023). The significant risk factors that predicted injuries included, alter-native source of income (p=0.027), personal safety culture (p=0.021) and use of hammer or mallet (p=0.022). Respondents who had an alternative source of income were 1.79 times more likely to experience injuries. Key informants reported two fatalities to have occurred at the Rosterman mines as a result of tunnel cave-in, asphyxiation, and electrocution. The respondents had varied knowledge on health and safety practices in ASGM including the importance of PPE and training on the prevention of injuries. It was observed that machin-ery such as the ore crusher does not undergo preventive inspection. In conclusion, the study revealed that injuries are prevalent in ASGM with the most affected body parts being hands. Various risk factors were associated with injuries including having an alternative source of income, using a mallet or hammer. The study recommended having workers sen-sitized on the kind of injuries they are exposed to. Also, relevant stakeholders should create awareness on the risk factors to injuries and initiate strategies to reduce the burden of inju-ries among ASGM workers.