J Occup Med Toxicol. 2019 Jan 10;14:1. doi: 10.1186/s12995-018-0222-9. eCollection 2019.
BACKGROUND: Electronic waste (e-waste) recycling workers in low and middle-income countries have the potential for occupational injuries due to the nature of their work at informal e-waste sites. However, limited research exists on stress, noise, occupational injuries, and health risks associated with this work environment. This study evaluated injury experience, noise exposures, and stress risk factors among e-waste workers at the large recycling site in the Agbogbloshie market, Accra, Ghana.
METHODS: Participants completed a survey addressing their work, health status, stress, exposures to several occupational hazards (including noise), use of personal protective equipment at work, and injury experience. A subset of participants also completed personal noise dosimetry measurements. Poisson regression was used to evaluate the association between the number of injuries experienced by participants and various factors evaluated in the survey.
RESULTS: Forty-six male e-waste workers completed the survey, and 26 completed a noise dosimetry measurement. Participants experienced an average of 9.9 ± 9.6 injuries per person in the previous 6 months (range: 1-40). The majority of injuries were lacerations (65.2%), and the most common injury location was the hand (45.7%). Use of personal protective equipment was rare. The mean time-weighted average noise level was 78.8 ± 5.9 dBA. Higher perceived stress, greater age, poorer health status, not using gloves, and involvement in dismantling activities were associated with an increased number of injuries. After controlling for each of these risk factors, perceived stress level and perceived noise exposure were associated with a significantly greater number of injuries.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study identified a large number of injuries among informal e-waste recyclers, and we found that higher levels of perceived stress and perceived noise were associated with an increased number of occupational injuries, even after controlling for other injury risk factors.