Occupational hazards are recognized as a major threat to the health of workers in all manufacturing industries, including the automobile assembly industry. There is dearth of data on occupational hazards and safety measures in the automobile assembly industry in Nigeria. There is need to explore the current situation as regards occupational hazards and safety measures in the automobile assembly industry in Nigeria, especially with the new automotive policy by the federal government called “National Automotive Industry Development Plan” (NAIDP) which aimed at increasing local production of automobiles. This study was conducted in two automobile assembly companies

in South-east Nigeria. The study assessed the level of knowledge of the workers regarding occupational hazards in their workplace, determined the common occupational hazards the workers were exposed to and also determined the safety measures currently in place in the companies.

This is a cross-sectional descriptive study. Data were collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative method utilized semi-structured, pre-tested, interviewer- administered questionnaires to obtain information on occupational hazards and safety measures and an observational checklist to obtain information on safety measures, while the qualitative aspect involved Key Informant Interview (KII) of the safety managers, the workers’ union leaders and the occupational health officers in the companies studied. The respondents were all the production staff in the two automobile assembly companies. Quantitative data was analysed with the SPSS version 20 software and summarised using proportions and means, and were presented in tables for easy appreciation. Qualitative data was analysed thematically.

A total of 318 respondents participated in this study; 268 workers in Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company (IVM) and 50 workers in Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO). Males constituted 96.9% of the respondents while females constituted 3.1% of the respondents. The mean age of the respondents was 27.88±7.28 years. Among the respondents 72.0% were single, 94.0% had secondary education and 92.8% were Ibos. Christianity was the commonest religion among the respondents (98.7%). Of all the respondents, 44.3% have worked for 1 to 2 years, while the mean years of working in the companies was 3.62 ± 4.07 years. The body shop section had the highest number of workers (32.1%), followed by the final finishing section (25.8%). A high proportion of the respondents (95.6%) knew that there were hazards in

their workplace and 78% of the respondents were able to identify at least one hazard in their workplace. Also 76.7% of the respondents were able to identify at least one occupational illness/injury that can occur in their workplace. Among the respondents 77.7% were able to identify at least one measure to prevent occupational illnesses/injuries in their workplace. All the respondents (100%) believed that the use of Personal Protective Devices (PPDs) was necessary and 76.7% were able to identify at least one PPD that is necessary in their workplace. Only 19.2% of the respondents had pre-employment medical examination before they started work. Only 57.2% of the respondents went for periodic medical examination. Among the respondents, 18.2% felt that periodic medical examination was not necessary, while 24.5% did not go for periodic medical examination because of lack of funds. Among the respondents, 73.9% reported that their employer did not organize occupational safety and health training for newly employed workers. Majority of the respondents (71.1%) responded that their employer does not organize occupational safety and health training for the workers. All the respondents (100%) responded that they were provided PPDs, but only 15.0% used the PPDs “always”. Majority of the respondents (76.4%) had experienced at least one occupational illness/injury. The observational checklist revealed the following findings at the companies: lack of first aid kits, lack of eyewash stations, workers were not wearing appropriate PPDs, machines with hot surfaces were not appropriately labelled, the fire extinguishers were not adequate, power cords were seen lying on the walkway and some electrical outlets were not appropriately covered. Major findings from the KII included: lack of a written safety and health policy, non-existence of a safety and health committee, lack of staff clinic or sick bay, lack of occupational health officer on ground, lack of occupational safety and health training for the workers, inadequate PPDs, lack of enforcement of the use of PPDs, etc.

This study concluded that the level of knowledge of the workers regarding occupational hazards was high, the workers were exposed to many hazards in their workplace, the usage of PPDs was low, and the safety measures in the companies were grossly inadequate. Appropriate intervention should be put in place to protect the health of the workers.





Occupational Health was defined in 1950 by the Joint International Labour Organization (ILO) / World Health Organization (WHO) committee on occupational health as "The promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental and social well being of workers in all occupations; the prevention among workers of departures from health caused by their working conditions; the protection of workers in their employment from risks resulting from factors adverse to health; the placing and maintenance of the workers in an occupational environment adapted to his physiological and psychological equipment, and to summarize, the adaptation of work to man and of each man to his job.1 Occupational health is that aspect of public health that deals with the health of a workman vis a vis his work environment. The whole essence is to ensure that a workman suffers no detriment to his health as a result of his work. Occupational environment is the sum of external conditions and influences which prevail at the place of work and which have a bearing on the health of the working population.1 There are three types of interaction in a work environment: Man and physical, chemical and biological agents, man and machine, and man and man.1 The physical factors in the work environment include heat, cold, humidity, air movement, heat, radiation, light, noise, vibrations and ionizing radiation.2 Chemical agents include all chemicals, toxic dusts and gases which are potential hazards to the health of workers. Biological agents include viral, rickettsial, bacterial and parasitic agents which may result from close contact with animals or their products, contaminated water, soil or food.1,2 Machines are common in work places. This is even more important in this age of mechanization. Most tasks that were manually

done are now done by machines. A common feature of machines is the presence of protruding and moving parts.1,2 Some of the machines are unguarded. In the presence of these machines accidents can occur as a result of lack of some safety measures. Also the long working hours operating these machines in unphysiological postures can result in fatigue, musculoskeletal problems etc. Man and man relationship includes the relationship between a workman and a fellow workman, and the relationship between a workman and his employer.3 This has to do with the social aspect of well being which is part of health. Examples of psychosocial factors in the workplace include: service conditions, leadership styles, communication, welfare conditions, job security etc.3

There are three major principles of control in occupational health1-5:

Medical measures, engineering measures and legislation. Medical measures include pre-placement examination, periodic medical examination, medical services, notification, supervision of working environment, keeping of health records, and health education and counselling. Engineering methods include design of buildings, good housekeeping, general ventilation, mechanization, substitution, suppression, enclosure, isolation, local exhaust ventilation, protective devices and environmental monitoring. Legislation includes occupational health and safety laws.


The effect of occupational diseases on the lives of workers and their families cannot be overemphasized. Occupational diseases cause huge suffering and losses to workers, businesses, social security funds and societies at large.6 It is estimated that there are globally about 2.02 million deaths annually caused by diseases due to work, while the annual global number of cases of non-fatal work related diseases is estimated to be 160 million.7 Globally, more than half of

countries do not provide statistics for occupational diseases and there is little capacity for workers' health surveillance , according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).6 Occupational injuries have been said to account for more than 10 million DALYs and 8% of unintentional injuries worldwide.8 The ILO estimates that about 4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) worldwide is lost because of work-related diseases and injuries.9

In the WHO Global Health Risks estimates10: Occupational risks were grouped into occupational injuries, occupational carcinogens, occupational airborne particulates, ergonomic stressors and occupational noise. The report stated that more than 350,000 workers lose their lives each year due to unintentional occupational injuries.10 Also 8% of the total burden of unintentional injuries in men is attributable to work-related injuries in high income countries, and 18% in low and middle income countries. Occupational exposures to carcinogens account for 8% of lung cancers worldwide.10 Occupational exposures to airborne particulates cause 12% of deaths due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and about 29,000 deaths are due to silicosis, asbestosis and pneumoconiosis.10 An estimated 37% of back pain is attributable to occupational risk factors and is a major cause of work absences, resulting in economic loss.10 About 16% of adult-onset hearing loss worldwide is attributable to occupational noise exposure and this corresponds to 4.5 million DALYs for moderate or greater levels of hearing loss.10

According to the publication: "Comparative quantification of health risks", occupational risk factors were responsible for 775,000 deaths worldwide in the year 2000.11 The leading occupational cause of death was COPD (41%), followed by unintentional injuries (40%) and trachea, bronchus or lung cancer (13%).11 The main cause of years of healthy life lost within

occupational diseases was unintentional injuries (with 48% burden). This was followed by hearing loss due to occupational noise (19%) and COPD due to occupational agents (17%).11 Occupational noise-induced hearing loss accounted for more than four million DALYs.11 Occupational ergonomic stressors caused 818,000 DALYs due to low back pain in the year 2000.11 Occupational injuries were responsible for 310,000 deaths and 10,496,000 DALYs lost in the year 2000.11

The following occupational diseases or injuries accounted for the respective percentages of disease burden due to occupational exposures: Low back pain (37%), hearing loss (16%), COPD (13%), asthma (11%), unintentional injuries (8%), trachea bronchus or lung cancer (9%), leukaemia (2%).11 Also they accounted for the following percentages of deaths from occupational risk factors: COPD (4%), unintentional injuries (40%), trachea bronchus or lung cancer (13%), asthma (5%), leukaemia (1%).11 In terms of DALYs unintentional injuries accounted for 10,496,000 DALYs, hearing loss accounted for 4,150,000 DALYs, COPD accounted for 3,733,000 DALYs, asthma accounted for 1,621,000 DALYs, trachea bronchus or lung cancer accounted for 969,000 DALYs, low back pain accounted for 818,000 DALYs and leukaemia accounted for 101,000 DALYs.11

Evidence already suggests that hundreds of millions of people throughout the world are employed in conditions that breed ill health and are unsafe. According to the ILO health and safety program, each year work-related injuries and diseases kill an estimated 1.1 million people worldwide, roughly equal to the estimated total annual number of deaths from malaria.12 This figure includes around 300,000 fatalities from an estimated 280 million accidents in the work place, which often lead to partial or complete loss of capacity to work and generate income.12 According to the WHO,

177,000 deaths were due to occupational carcinogens, 352,000 deaths were due to occupational injuries and 457,000 deaths were due to occupational airborne particulates all in the year 2004.13 Also ergonomic stressors accounted for 898,000 DALYs, carcinogens accounted for 1,897,000 DALYs, occupational noise accounted for 4,510,000 DALYs, airborne particulates accounted for 6,751,000 DALYs, and occupational injuries accounted for 11,612,000 DALYs all in the year 2004.13 Still in the year 2004 the WHO reported in its publication "Global Health Risks", that occupational risks is the 15th leading risk factor for deaths in the year 2004 and contributed about 1,000,000 deaths in 2004, also occupational risk factors was the 15th out of 19 risk factors that accounted for DALYs in 2004.10 Overall, more than 350,000 workers lose their lives each year due to unintentional occupational injuries.10

In the United States alone, the number of fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries in 2007 was estimated to be more than 5,600 and almost 8,559,000 respectively, at a cost of 6 billion dollars and 186 billion dollars respectively. The number of fatal and non-fatal occupational illnesses was estimated at more than 53,000 and nearly 427,000 respectively, with cost estimates of 46 billion and 12 billion dollars.14 For occupational injuries and diseases combined, medical cost estimates were 67 billion dollars (27% of the total), and indirect costs were almost 183 billion dollars (73%). Occupational injuries comprised 77 percent of the total and occupational diseases accounted for 23 percent. The total estimated costs were approximately 250 billion dollars.14

In Africa, in the year 2000, 14% of lung cancers were due to workplace exposures, 5% of leukaemias were due to workplace exposure, 18,000 DALYs were due to lung cancer caused by workplace exposure, 9,000 DALYs were due to leukaemias caused by workplace exposures, 38%

of mortality from asthma and 22% mortality from COPD were due to workplace exposures, 5,000 deaths from asthma and 13,000 deaths from COPD were caused by workplace exposure, 231,000 DALYs from asthma and 122 DALYs from COPD were due to workplace exposure, 343,000 DALYs were due to occupational noise-induced hearing loss, and 82,000 DALYs were due to occupational ergonomic stressors.11 In sub-Saharan Africa alone, ILO estimates 257,000 work- related fatalities including about 55,000 injuries.14 These health outcomes provoke a loss of roughly 4% of GDP due to workers' compensation, lost work days, interruption of production, retraining, medical expenditures and so on, not even counting the suffering and poverty caused in the families by those deaths and diseases.15 In Africa, work-related threats to human health and life are becoming increasingly evident.16 In spite of all these health related findings only 5% to 10% of workers in developing countries have access to occupational health services.16 In 2001, a survey conducted by the WHO regional office in Africa showed the lack of comprehensive occupational health services for workers in the region In spite of various World Health Assembly resolutions. Of countries 63% conducted risk management; 41% provided information and education; 26% conducted pre-placement medical examinations ; 33% provided clinical services for vaccinations, special examinations and treatment; 7% conducted research, provided examination for compensation, developed human resources, provided education and counselling on HIV/AIDS and use of tobacco, and collected data related to the health of workers.16 The survey also showed that 48% of the countries have occupational health legislation and 37% have legislation pertaining to labour and health, but in both cases there is lack of adequate human resources to monitor applications.16

There are no data on the burden of occupational diseases and injuries in Nigeria as evidenced by the following: Nigeria is conspicuously absent among the country profiles in the ILO website

where countries' occupational safety and health statistics are presented.17 Nigeria was not listed in the country index in the occupational safety and world (OSHWORLD) website.18 The Ministry of labour and productivity website,19 that of the Federal Ministry Of Health,20 and that of the National Bureau of Statistics did not have any data on the occurrence of occupational diseases and injuries in Nigeria.21 Other websites that were checked but did not have data on occupational diseases and injuries in Nigeria were: Nigerian Institute of Safety Professionals,22 Society of Occupational and Environmental Health Physicians of Nigeria,23 National Industrial Safety Council of Nigeria.24 Even a visit to the Anambra State office of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity did not yield any result as they reported that they had no data on occupational diseases and injuries in Nigeria.

Globally several studies have demonstrated the dangers workmen experience in their workplace. A study done in an asbestos composite mill in India revealed that 22% of the workers who participated in the study had asbestosis.25 A case-control study in Canada reported that women in jobs with potentially high exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disrupters had elevated breast cancer risk.26 A systematic review on workplace exposure to benzene and the risk of leukaemia with a dose-response pattern reported higher risk of leukaemia among workers that are exposed to benzene in their workplace.27 Several other studies have shown the dangers workers face in their workplace.28,29,30

In Nigeria, some studies have also brought to the fore the dangers workers experience in their workplace. A study done at the Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC) reported that there was presence of atmospheric contaminants in concentrations higher than the WHO approved

permissible limits, and exposure to dust and smoke was significantly associated with respiratory symptoms among the workers.31 Another study done at Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company Limited (KRPC) reported that the workers are exposed to hazards and have suffered occupational diseases and injuries such as cuts, lacerations, bruises, amputations, chemical inhalation, burns, low back pain, etc.32 There are other studies done in Nigeria which highlighted dangers workers face in their workplace.33,34,35

In the automobile industry, workers are exposed to several hazards including: high noise levels, excessive heat, physical injuries like cuts, lacerations and amputations, inhalation of chemicals which cause respiratory problems and cancers, chemical burns, inhalation of welding fumes, heavy metals poisoning such as lead, musculoskeletal problems, eye problems from welding, skin problems etc.39,40,41 Several studies have highlighted the occupational hazards of the automobile industry: A study done in an automobile manufacturing company in China reported that the noise level exceeded the standard and 35.58% of the workers had hearing impairment and 15.05% had pneumoconiosis.36 Another study in an automobile assembly plant in Iran reported that 31.4% of the workers had acquired colour vision defect due to exposure to neurotoxic chemicals.37 A case control study at another automobile assembly company in Iran reported that the welders in the company had higher prevalence of chronic bronchitis than controls who were office workers, also the welders had lower pulmonary function levels with a dose-effect relationship and these were due to the welding fumes in their workplace.38 Several other studies have highlighted the hazards automobile assembly workers are exposed to.39,40,41

In Nigeria there are very few studies on automobile industry. This is understandable because there are very few automobile assembly plants in country. After extensive literature search only one study on occupational hazards in automobile assembly plant in Nigeria was found. This study was done at Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited (PAN) Kaduna, Nigeria. The study reported that the workers were exposed to chemical fumes, noise pollution, chemical burns, injury by metal chips, cuts, eye irritation, dry cough etc.42 However, there are other studies done in Nigeria on occupations that are components of the car assembly process but done outside car assembly companies. Example welders and car paint sprayers. A study done on welders in Benin city reported that the health complaints of the welders were arc eye, foreign bodies in the eyes, back/waist pain, metal fume fever, cuts/injuries.43 Another study on welders in Kaduna Nigeria reported similar hazards.44

Globally efforts led by the WHO and ILO have been made to tackle the problem of occupational diseases and injuries, including policy formulations like the WHO declaration on occupational health for all,45 WHO declaration on workers' health,46 the WHO global plan of action on workers' health,47 Global strategy on occupational health for all.48 WHO implements a number of activities 49 via its occupational health program including: healthy workplaces, universal health coverage of workers, occupational and work-related diseases etc. Also both the WHO and the ILO have been sponsoring researches on occupational diseases and injuries as a measure to help tackle the problem. In Africa, the regional offices of both the WHO and the ILO have been replicating the efforts of their headquarters. One example of the efforts at the African regional level is the WHO- ILO Joint effort on Occupational Health and Safety in Africa. This collaboration is involved in

several activities such as capacity building, formulation of national policies, research and promotion of occupational health, etc.15

In Nigeria, the protection of workers' health is under the purview of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Laws and policies for the protection of workers' health in Nigeria include: The Factories Act of Nigeria 2004, The Nigerian National Policy on Occupational Safety and Health, The workman's compensation Act of 1987 now the Employee Compensation Act 2010, The labour, safety, health and welfare bill of 2012. However it is worthy of note that there are challenges affecting the efforts to minimize occupational diseases and injuries in Nigeria such as50: weak legal structures, corruption, low educational level of workforce, weak national occupational health and safety standard, lack of political will, lack of statistics, shortage of occupational health and safety professionals, funding, etc.50


Occupational hazards are recognized as a major threat to the health of workers in all manufacturing industries, including the automobile assembly. There is dearth of data on occupational hazards and safety measures in the automobile assembly industry in Nigeria.42 The situation is worsened by the fact that in developing countries 90% of workers have no access to occupational health services.51 Studies in the developed world have shown that automobile assembly workers are exposed to multiple hazards including chemical burns, musculoskeletal problems, physical injuries, high noise levels, excessive heat, etc.36,37,38,39,40,41 This study will help fill the gap in knowledge as regards the

knowledge of Nigerian automobile assembly workers on occupational hazards in their workplace, the common occupational hazards that Nigerian automobile assembly workers experience, the safety measures presently available in automobile assembly plants in Nigeria. This is very important especially now that the Federal Government of Nigeria has rolled out a new automotive policy called "National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) 52 which is aimed at boosting local production of automobiles. This policy if well implemented will surely increase production by Nigerian automobile assembly companies and even encourage the establishment of new automobile assembly plants in Nigeria. This ultimately translates to more automobile assembly workers in Nigeria. The findings of this study will help the management of the companies to institute measures to protect the health of the workers, help the government to identify areas they need to intervene in order to protect the health of the workers and also help the workers to identify areas that they need to take action in order to protect their health. The result of this study will help to plan for interventions to protect the health of automobile assembly workers in Nigeria and improve occupational health services for them. It will also stimulate further research in the area of occupational hazards and safety measures in the automobile assembly industry.


1. What is the level of knowledge of the automobile assembly workers on occupational hazards in their workplace?

2. What are the commonest occupational hazards the automobile assembly workers are exposed to in their workplace?

3. What are the safety measures currently in place in the automobile assembly companies?


GENERAL OBJECTIVE: To assess the occupational hazards and safety measures in place in the automobile assembly companies.


1. To assess the level of knowledge among the workers regarding occupational hazards in their workplace in the automobile assembly companies.

2. To determine the common occupational hazards the workers are exposed to in the automobile assembling companies.

3. To determine the safety measures in place in the automobile assembling companies.



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