Adverse health problems among municipality workers in Alexandria (Egypt)

Ekram W. Abd El- Wahab, Safaa M. Eassa, Sameh E. Lotfi, Sanaa A. El Masry, Hanan Z. Shatat, Amira M. Kotkat


 Background: Solid waste management has emerged as an important human and environmental health issue. Municipal solid waste workers (MSWWs) are potentially exposed to a variety of occupational biohazards and safety risks. The aim of this study was to describe health practices and safety measures adopted by workers in the main municipal company in Alexandria (Egypt) as well as the pattern of the encountered work related ill health.

Methods: A cross‑sectional study was conducted between January and April 2013. We interviewed and evaluated 346 workers serving in about 15 different solid waste management activities regarding personal hygiene, the practice of security and health care measures and the impact of solid waste management.

Results: Poor personal hygiene and self‑care, inadequate protective and safety measures for potentially hazardous exposure were described. Impact of solid waste management on health of MSWWs entailed high prevalence of gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin and musculoskeletal morbidities. Occurrence of accidents and needle stick injuries amounted to 46.5% and 32.7% respectively. The risk of work related health disorders was notably higher among workers directly exposed to solid waste when compared by a group of low exposure potential particularly for diarrhea (odds ratio [OR] = 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2‑3.8), vomiting (OR = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.1‑6.6), abdominal colic (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.1‑3.2), dysentery (OR = 3.6, 95% CI = 1.3‑10), dyspepsia (OR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.1‑3), low back/sciatic pain (OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.8‑7), tinnitus (OR = 6.2, 95% CI = 0.3‑122) and needle stick injury (OR = 3.4, 95% CI = 2.1‑5.5).

Conclusions: Workers exposed to solid waste exhibit significant increase in risk of ill health. Physician role and health education could be the key to assure the MSWWs health safety.

Keywords: Hazards, ill‑health, municipal solid waste workers, occupational, self‑care

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