Occupational hazards in some selected small scale industries in a district of Sri Lanka
Objective To identify occupational hazards in the work environment in small scale industiries in a district of Sri Lanka
Method A descriptive cross sectional study was carried out in selected categories of small scale industries namely food and beverages, apparel, non metallic mineral products and fabricated metal products in a district of Sri Lanka. A small scale industry was defined as a work setting with less than 20 workers. A sample of 102 factories was randomly selected using Census of Industries Sri Lanka in 2003/2004. Interviewer administered pre tested checklist was used for data collection.
Results Out of 102, 78.4% (n = 80) of the factories did not have safety signs displayed while machines were properly guarded only in 25 (24.5%) of the factories. The working environment was found to be accident prone in 38.2% (n = 39) of the industries. Lighting was adequate in 93 (91.2%) and noise was found to be excessive in 35 (34.3%) factories.
A functioning safety committee was available in 5 (4.9%) industries while workers trained in occupational safety and first aid, were present only in 18.6% (n = 19) and 23.5% (n = 24) of the factories respectively. Only 24 (23.5%) industries had a protocol developed to act in an emergency situation
Accidents were recorded only in 16 (15.7%) factories. Separate meal room and a changing room were available in 62.7% (n = 64) of the factories.
Conclusion The working environment of small scale industries was found to be unsatisfactory. Detailed studies are warranted to assess the hazards in depth. However, measures should be planned to improve the working environment and health of small scale industry workers since they represent a significant percent of the labour force in Sri Lanka.