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Occupational Health is defined by the Joint Committee of International Labour

Office and the World Health Organisation as “the promotion and maintenance of

the highest degree of physical, mental being of workers in all occupations and

places of employment.1 While occupational hazard is defined as a work material

substance, process or situation that predisposes to disease or accident, or can

directly cause disease or accident to workers in the work place, and even years

after the workers might have left the workplace.2

Occupational Health comprises of two main disciplines – occupational medicine

and occupational hygiene. Occupational medicine primarily concerns man and

the influence of work on his wealth while occupational hygiene concerns the

measurement, assessment and control of man’s working environment.

Developing countries of the world live in poverty and disease circle.

Industrialization in the 50’s/60’s came as a welcoming process of breaking this

circle of poverty and disease, thus the peasants who were subsistence farmers,

and knows little about modern methods or production became readily available

work force for the industries; exposing them to diseases of various occupations

and hazards there in.


The provision of occupational health services is as a result of realization on the

part of managements that a healthy worker is a productive worker.

Since the introduction of the health and safety work Act 1974, occupational

health hazards and work place environment has received the attention of the

managements and efforts to minimize hazards put in place.

The health and welfare of the working force in developing countries should be

easy to attain as the problems are already well known in most cases. However,

this is not the case; due to lack of compliance with statutory requirement by

managements and also lack of interest in the health of workers by their own

trade unions as they only always struggle for increase in wages. Most industries

take advantage of this and refuse to comply with rules and regulations to protect

the workers from occupational health hazards.

As countries undergo industrialization, the need for the health care of workers on

whom industrialization depends becomes important.8 There were increase

awareness by the public of workplace hazards and of the health risks that may

be associated with them. There was also need for the better enlightenment of

the employers of labour on the need for occupational health and safety. A worker

may be exposed to five different types of hazards depending upon his

occupation. These are the physical, chemical, biological, mechanical and


psychological hazards. Occupational hazard is a worldwide problem affecting

both developed and developing countries. As a result of technological advances

in industrial hygiene, many toxic factors both physical and chemical that were

highly prevalent in the early part of the industrial revolution have been to a large

extent controlled in the advanced countries. However developing countries and

countries in transition face the traditional industrial hazards in addition to

widespread level of malnutrition, poverty and disease be devilling the area.9

Also the workers are susceptible to the development of occupational diseases.

These occupational diseases are regarded as disease arising in the course of

employment.9 These are classified into diseases due to physical agents such as

heat pyrexia, heat exhaustion, occupational deafness etc, biological agents, such

as brucellosis, anthrax and actinomycoses, and chemical agents, such as

silicoses, anthracosis. Also organic vegetable dusts such as Bagassossis and

byssinosis are also included here. They are irreversible fibrotic lung condition

know as pneumoconiosis.

Occupational diseases could also result from the toxic effect of metals and their

compounds such as lead and mercuric poisoning.


Other diseases of psychological origin such as hypertension and industrial

neurosis plus diseases such as occupational cancers and occupational dermatitis

can also occur.10

Occupational problems can also be inform of physical injury, such as a cut,

fracture, sprain and amputation that can result from a work accident or from

exposure in the working environment. Work accident or occupational accident

constitutes an important cause of sickness absence in industries particularly in

developing countries.10 Certain occupations like mining, agriculture, building and

construction are inherently more accident prone than others.

While part of this is due to the intrinsic dangers of the work, there is little doubt

that lack of safety practices is characteristic of some sectors. This is particularly

marked in the construction industry where neglect of safety precaution is

responsible for many serious injuries. Occupational accidents occur in both

developed and developing countries. They arise from a conjunction of hazards

and an unsuspecting person. The cause of accidents can therefore be as a result

of human or environment factors. The human factors include the physical

capabilities of the worker, which may not meet his job requirements.

Physiological factors such as age, sex working hours, experience and

psychological problems have effects on accident. The environmental factors that

can cause accident are faulty machine, poor illumination, and noise.10 The effect


of occupational accidents has been tremendous among workers world wide. It

has caused the loss of several lives, caused several disabling injuries and has

been responsible for a lot of sickness and absence from work. There is therefore

need to pay attention to prevention of occupational accident through safety

practices. Successful accident prevention requires some fundamental activities

which include adequate pre-placement examination, a study of all working areas

to detect and eliminate or control physical or environmental hazards which

contribute to accidents, a study of all operating methods and practices,

education, instruction, training and discipline to minimize human factors which

contribute to accidents. The identification of predisposing factors in the cause of

accidents is absolutely fundamental to effective safety prevention measures. Also

analysis and thorough investigation of every accident, which results in a disabling

injury, produce information, which leads to counter measures that prevent or

reduce the number of accidents.

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