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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 78-83

Knowledge of occupational hazards and use of preventive measures among bakery workers in Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Nigeria

1 Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaduna State University, Kaduna State, Zaria, Nigeria
2 Centre for Disaster Risk Management and Development Studies, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria
3 Department of Community Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria
4 Bursary Department, Ahmad Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication30-Apr-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Istifanus Anekoson Joshua
Department of Community Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaduna State University, Kaduna
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/archms.archms_39_17

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Background: Workers in bakeries face many hazards in their work environment, and these hazards have the potential to cause injury or illness. The study assessed the knowledge of occupational hazards and the use of preventive measures among bakery workers in Kaduna North Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Materials and Method: The cross-sectional descriptive study was carried out in January 2017. The data collection tools were 258 pretested semi-structured interviewer-administered questionnaires and observational checklist. The collected data were manually cleaned, checked for completeness; entered into SPSS software version 20.0 and analyzed. The results were presented as tables and charts. Results: Majority (77%) were within the age bracket of 15–30 years with a mean age of 23 ± 2.1 years, 63% of males and 37% had secondary education with different job descriptions. The mean working experience was 5 years with only 14% and 2% of the workers having had training on prevention of workplace hazards and the use of fire extinguisher, respectively. The workers had poor awareness of occupational hazards such as tightness on the chest (30%), skin reactions/allergy (16%) and falls (17%) but with better awareness of burns (46%), cuts (37%) and hearing problems from excess noise (40.0%) among others. The most encountered symptoms/problems by workers were a muscular problem (72%), recurrent catarrh (65%), tightness on the chest (54%), recurrent cough (54%) and sneezing (52%) and symptoms of asthma among others. Apron, hand gloves and face masks were the commonly used protective devices by the workers and only 19% of the bakeries had functional first aid boxes. Burning was the most common method of solid waste disposal (52%). Conclusion: The workers had poor to average awareness of some occupational hazards with some encountering some problems as a result of their work. The use of personal protective devices such as apron, hand gloves and face masks were encouraging. However, the availability of functional first aid box and training on the use of fire extinguishers were major problems. There is a need for continuous training of the workers on prevention of workplace hazards, use of fire extinguisher and provision of basic functional first aid box among others in the workplace.

Keywords: Bakery workers, hazards, Kaduna North, Nigeria, protective measures

How to cite this article:
Joshua IA, Abubakar I, Gobir AA, Nmadu AG, Igboanusi CC, Onoja-Alexander MO, Adiri F, Bot TC, I-Joshua W, Shehu AU. Knowledge of occupational hazards and use of preventive measures among bakery workers in Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Nigeria. Arch Med Surg 2017;2:78-83

How to cite this URL:
Joshua IA, Abubakar I, Gobir AA, Nmadu AG, Igboanusi CC, Onoja-Alexander MO, Adiri F, Bot TC, I-Joshua W, Shehu AU. Knowledge of occupational hazards and use of preventive measures among bakery workers in Kaduna North Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Nigeria. Arch Med Surg [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Dec 11];2:78-83. Available from: https://www.archms.org/text.asp?2017/2/2/78/231631

  Introduction Top

A baker is a worker who mixes flour, salt, yeasts, spices, sugar, and other ingredients to prepare dough, batter, fillings, etc., which are then formed into bread, cakes, rolls, etc., and baked in ovens. Their work environment is an important determinant of health; it can influence health positively or negatively, and for most people, work is essential for economic, social as well as physical wellbeing.[1]

The Baking industry, like most occupations, is prone to occupational health hazards and most of these hazards are preventable and arise from the neglect of occupational safety measures.[2] These occupational hazards could be classified into physical, chemical, biological, psychological, and mechanical.[1]

Injuries from accidents are equally common among bakery workers. These could arise from slips and falls on wet or uneven floor surfaces. Cuts from sharp or moving machinery, falls from heights as well as burns and scalds from hot ingredients are also frequent causes of accidents.[3] Other health problems among bakery workers include musculoskeletal disorders (muscle pains and arthritis), contact dermatitis from chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and bleach used in cleaning bakeries, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (emphysema and bronchial asthma), injuries to the eyes, and irreversible hearing damage among others.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9]

The musculoskeletal disorders arise from manual handling and moving of heavy loads for example while loading or off-loading from the vehicles. Other causes of musculoskeletal disorders include work requiring repetitive movements and poor work posture. Most of these are due to poor consideration of ergonomic factors in the workplace.[2] Chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and bleach used in cleaning bakeries are hazardous and irreversible hearing defect is as a result of exposure to high noise levels exceeding the threshold limit levels, and this may be difficult to detect since the effects can build up slowly over time.[10] Continuous mechanical sound may arise from mixers, compressors, generators, and blowers of the oven and vibratory sifters. A researcher added that the heat associated with ovens in a bakery can be a hazard; the excessive heat can affect cardiovascular function, for example, causing syncope (fainting) and other consequences.[11]

Employers and employees in the bakery are also exposed to high temperature from ovens and may also have to handle hot products. This usually leads to collapse through exhaustion and contact burns. Hazards of fire outbreak are common through explosion from inflammable substances stored within the facility.

Bakery operators have the responsibility under Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (the Act)[12] to provide and maintain a safe working environment in which employees are not exposed to hazards. This responsibility includes providing information, instruction, training, and supervision so that workers are not exposed to hazards. However, both the management and workers are responsible for the safety of the workplace.[13]

Occupational accidents cause serious consequences, providing first aid in the workplace can reverse unpleasant results.[1],[14] First aid provision at the workplace during or after work accidents can reverse unpleasant consequences on the worker's health and life. Advising and educating workers on first aid is an important norm of prevention for health and safety in the workplace.[15] For the safety of workers and for savaging bakeries from serious fire damage, it is highly required that fire detectors and fire extinguishers are stalled.

In recent years, the number of commercial Bakeries in Nigeria have increased tremendously and also the number of workers in the industry.[16] In times past and in the present times, bread has always had a place on the dining tables of every home. Different flavors and varieties of bread are being produced and sold in commercial quantities in Nigeria and bread is readily available for purchase by people of all income levels both in rural and urban areas of the country. This general acceptance and patronage has made the bakery business a very profitable one.

The importance of bakery in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized; it is an employer of labor. However, studies showed poor knowledge on occupational hazards among these workers [1] which sometimes leads to accidents and injuries. These are preventable and the need for health education of these important group. A major challenge in bakery industry is the rapid turnover of these workers and use of handicraft production (manual production process) except in few cases where the bakeries are automated.[17]

This study assessed the knowledge of occupational hazards and use of protective measures among bakery workers in Kaduna North Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.

  Materials and Methods Top

Study area

Kaduna North LGA is one of the 23 LGA in Kaduna State, and it is in the Central Senatorial zone of the State, with its headquarters located in Doka town, in the heart of the State. The Local government has an area of 72 km 2 with Latitude of 10'30'35.18” and Longitude of 7' 25'50.22”. It has boundaries with Igabi LGA to the North, Kaduna South Local Government to the West and Chikun Local Government to the South.

Kaduna north has a population of 357,694[18] with different tribes from all parts of the country such as Igala, Yoruba, Igbo, Idoma, and Calabar, Hausas and Fulani are the dominant tribes of the area which also has all its districts under the jurisdiction of the Zazzau Emirates.

Study design

This was a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out in January 2017.

Sample size estimation

The formula below was used to calculate the sample size for the study,

Where n – Desired sample size when population is >10,000, z – The normal standard deviate, at 95% confidence interval = 1.96

p – Proportion of the population with the right knowledge, = 50% (0.5)

q – 1 − P = 0.5

d – Precision level at 95% confidence interval = 0.05

n = 384

As the study population was <10,000, an adjustment was made using the formula below.

nf = n/1+ (n/N)

Where, n – number of respondents determined above = 384

N (study population) = approximately 550

nf = 384/(1 + 384/550), nf = 225

Fifteen percent of the calculated value was added to correct for attrition = 225 + 33 = 258.

Sampling technique

The total number of officially registered bakeries in Kaduna north LGA was 64. The LGA was roughly divided into four quadrants (A - with 20, B - with 18, C - with 14, and D - with 14 registered bakeries). Simple random sampling by balloting was used to select half of the registered bakeries in each of the quadrants giving a total of 32 selected bakeries. The selected bakeries had between 16 and 18 workers. Eights workers were selected from each registered bakery by simple random sampling using balloting giving a total of 258 workers.

Data collection tools

These were semi-structured interviewer-administered questionnaire and observational checklist. The tools were pretested among Bakery workers in Kaduna South LGA and fine-tuned.

Data analysis

The collected data were checked, cleaned, entered into SPSS version 20.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA 2012) computer software and analyzed. Data were summarized using frequencies, percentages, measures of central tendency (means), and dispersion (standard deviations) and presented as tables and charts. Chi-square was used to identify the relationship between some variables and asthma and the value of P ≤ 0.05 was used for statistical significance.

Ethical considerations

Informed consents were obtained from the participants after explaining to them the aim of the study; and confidentiality was assured to all the participants. At the end of the study, the workers were given health education.

  Results Top

Out of the 258 questionnaires administered, 256 were correctly filled, giving a response rate of 99%.

Majority of the respondents (77%) were within the age bracket of 15–30 years, 63% of males, 37% had secondary education, and the mean working experience was 5 years with 78% working between 0 and 5 years. The categories of the workers were slicers (28%), pan washers (18%) among others and 44% worked for between 0 and 6 h per day; 14% had training on prevention of workplace hazards, and only 2% had training on the use of fire extinguisher [Table 1].
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics and training of the Respondents in Kaduna North LGA, January, 2017 (n=256)

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Most of the respondents are aware that working in bakery could expose them to occupational hazards such as burns, hearing problems, cuts, and catarrh due to use of ovens, sharp objects, and flour dust, while very few knew skin irritation and itching could also occur due to exposure to flour dust [Table 2].
Table 2: Awareness of occupational hazards among the bakery workers in Kaduna North LGA, January 2017 (n=256)

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Muscle pains, catarrh, cough, and sneezing are the most prevalent symptoms experienced by the workers in their respective bakeries [Table 3].
Table 3: Symptoms encountered at work place by the respondents, January 2017 (n=256)

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There is a statistically significant relationship between the use of face mask by the workers and the appearance of symptoms of asthma [Table 4].
Table 4: Relationship between some variables and presentation with symptoms of asthma

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Apron is the most commonly used device at the workplace, followed by hand gloves and boots, a little above half of the workers wear face masks. Some respondents confirmed vacuum cleaners are used for cleaning [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Use of personal protective equipment by the respondents (n=256)

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Non-expired fire extinguishers are available in more than half of the bakeries, however, only a few have first aid boxes in place [Figure 2].
Figure 2: Availability of fire extinguishers, first aid box and vacuum cleaners in the bakeries (n= 32)

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All the bakeries 32 (100%) temporarily stored their waste in the dustbin. While majority finally disposed of their waste by burning (52%), followed by open dumping (46%) and lastly recycling (2%) [Figure 3].
Figure 3: Methods of waste storage and final disposal (n=32)

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  Discussion Top

Majority of the bakery workers are within the age bracket of 21–30 years and this is usually the productive age group. About a quarter fall in the age bracket of 15–20 years, meaning that some of the workers are under-aged. These under-aged workers are more likely to have poor knowledge of occupational hazards and less likely to use personal protective equipment (PPE). Therefore, they are more likely to suffer from accidents in the workplace.[19] Employment of children <18 years is against the International Labour Organisation law.

Males constituted almost 2/3 of the workforce which is a common finding because they are ones that usually fend for the family. These findings are similar to studies conducted in Aba (Nigeria) and Benha (Egypt).[1],[2]

A significant proportion of the workers only had primary and secondary education which could be because the processes are not highly technical, especially in Nigeria and the bakery owners will prefer to employ low skilled workers to reduce the cost of production. These findings disagreed with a similar study in Benha (Egypt) which showed a majority of the workers to have high educational qualification [1] but agreed with the result of the study in Aba (Nigeria).[2] The difference may be related to the study area in the case of the study in Benha (Egypt).

A good proportion of them have been working in the bakeries for a duration ranging from few months to 5 years with different job descriptions such as cleaners, mixers, slicers, bakers, and administrative staff among others, similar to the study carried out in Aba in Enugu State.[2] These categories of workers have different exposure levels to hazards in the workplace. Therefore, the PPE to be used by the different workers are different. This duration of work may also be related to the high turnover of workers in bakery industries and may be an impediment in the area of training of workers since most of them leave the industry after being trained by the bakeries owners.

A good number work for 0–6 h a day but about 4/5 work for 13–18 h a day which could be very stressful. This will also mean that they are exposed to the hazardous materials in the workplace for this long durations, day in and day out. This calls for strict supervision of the workers to ensure regular use of PPE, regular monitoring of their health, and the rotation/change of their work schedule.

Only a small proportion of the workers had training on their job which may increase the untrained workers' susceptibility to workplace hazards, and this could increase the workers' absenteeism and decrease productivity. Workers' training about occupational safety is seen as critical part of human resources management to perform their work efficiently and help them to make the work environment enjoyable and safe for the workers.[1]

Fire is a common hazard in the bakery industry; therefore, the use of fire extinguisher is very important. This study revealed that the level of fire preparedness among the workers is poor since only 2% had training on the use of fire extinguishers.

The poor awareness regarding health problems related to occupational hazards such as breathlessness, cough, and tightness on the chest, catarrh, and burns among the workers may be related to the lack of training of the workers and attrition. The implication is that the workers may not seek medical attention early when they notice any of these symptoms since they may not link it to their workplace. This finding is similar to other studies.[1],[2]

More than half of the workers have reported the following symptoms-sneezing, tightness of the chest, cough, and catarrh which could be related to the presence of dust in the work environment among others. This is in agreement with the study in Khartoum.[20] Symptoms suggestive of asthma and skin irritation may also be related to the above-mentioned factors. A similar study in Ibadan has demonstrated that bakery workers have diverse respiratory symptoms due to constant inhalation of floor dust in the industry.[16]

Others such as burns could be due to fire and hot pans, muscle problems due to the lifting of heavy objects and cuts from knives or sharp objects. This finding is similar to other studies.[1],[2] The explosion and electric shock were the least common hazards reported probably due to few bakery industries using electric and gas ovens to bake their bread or cake.

Sex, educational status, number of years, and having training on prevention of hazards at workplace did not significantly influence the likelihood of developing symptoms of asthma. However, the prevalence of asthma was significantly lower among those that frequently wore a facemask, χ2 = 4.590, P = 0.015 [Table 4].

One of the means of reducing the impacts of workplace hazards is the use of PPE. More than 50% use apron, hand gloves and face masks and the remaining use boots and head covers. Apart from protection, some of the listed items may help in the prevention of contamination of the finished products. Hence, there is a need for continuous health education, close monitoring of the workers and good house-keeping as suggested by other researchers.[1],[2]

Nonavailability of the safety gadgets may also be a problem, so the bakery owners should ensure their availability. Availability of unexpired fire extinguishers in the industries was over 50%. However, there is the need for their regular servicing to ensure that they are not expired, thus giving false sense of safety. Furthermore, availability is not only enough but also the workers should know how to use them to extinguish fire when the need arises. Availability of first aid box is poor which may be related to the poor value placed on the availability and the use of first aid box among the general population. Basic knowledge of first aid and its practice could reduce the severity of injuries and also save lives in emergency situations.[14]

Waste generation is an important aspect of every industry. The use of vacuum cleaners tends to reduce floor dust deposits in the industry, thereby keeping the environment clean. All the studied industries used dustbin for temporary storage but have different methods of final disposal, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The dustbins should be emptied regularly to the final disposal site to ensure that they do not encourage the breeding of pests such as cockroaches, flies, and rats within the bakery premises.

  Conclusion Top

The workers had poor to average awareness of some occupational hazards with some encountering some problems as a result of their work. The use of personal protective devices such as apron, hand gloves and face masks were encouraging. However, the availability of functional first aid box and training on the use of fire extinguishers are major problems.


These include:

  • Continuous training of the workers by the bakery owners and other relevant stakeholders to increase their knowledge on the prevention of occupational hazards.
  • Training of the workers on the use of fire extinguishers by fire service personnel.
  • Provision of functional first aid box and training on how to use it for management of minor injuries.
  • Periodic medical examination of the workers by qualified medical staff to monitor their health status.
  • Encourage the use of vacuum cleaners as against brooms to reduce dust hazards to the staff.
  • Provision and of PPE by the bakery owners for the staff use.
  • Under-aged workers (<18 years) should not be employed by the bakery owners.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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Aguwa Emmanuel N, Arinze-Onyia Sussan U. Assessment of baking industries in a developing country: The common hazards, health challenges, control measures and association to asthma. Int Res J Med Sci 2014;2:1-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Health and Safety Executive. Baker's Dozen. Thirteen Essentials for Health and Safety in Bakeries; 2011. Available from: http://www.books.hse.gov.uk/hse/public/home.jsf. [Last accessed on 2016 Dec 01].  Back to cited text no. 3
Bena A, D'Errico A, Mirabelli D. A system for the active surveillance of occupational bronchial asthma: The results of 2 years of activity of the PRiOR program. Med Lav 1999;90:556-71.  Back to cited text no. 4
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Svagr JJ, Berkowitz DE, Stellman JM. Health Effects and Disease Patterns. ILO Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety. Available from: http://www.ilo.org/oshenc/part-x/foodindustry/overview-and-health-effects/item/858-healtheffects-and-disease-patterns. [Last accessed on 2016 Dec 01].  Back to cited text no. 10
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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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