Road construction work has its own specific set of risks and safety issues. It has not been adequately addressed in most low- and middle-income countries, especially in Africa. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of personal protective equipment (PPE) use during road construction activities by workers in foreign-owned against locally-owned road construction companies in Ghana.
An institution-based cross-sectional survey was undertaken during January – March, 2020 to study 389 road construction workers who were actively working on site. They were unobtrusively observed to capture whether or not they wore the appropriate PPE at the time of the survey. The PPE of interest were: hard hat, goggles, shoes, nose masks, hearing protection, gloves, and reflective vests/apparel. On-site posted PPE signage was also checked.
Majority of workers were labourers (53.5%) and males (96.9%). Similar numbers of workers in foreign-owned (194) and locally-owned (195) companies were studied. Use of PPE varied considerably by type: goggles (11.3%), hard hat (27.0%), safety shoes (78.7%), gloves (30.6%), hearing protection (10.8%), reflective vest (44.5%) and nose mask (17.2%). For all types of PPE, use was higher among workers in foreign-owned companies compared with locally-owned companies: goggles (Odds ratio [OR] 55.2), hardhat (OR 20.2), safety shoes (OR 4.1), gloves (OR 23.7), hearing protection (OR 52.0), reflective vest (OR 5.3) and nose mask (OR 17.8) (p<0.001 for all ORs). No site had any signage to promote PPE use.
Majority of workers used safety shoes. Less than half of workers used other types of PPE and use of some types (goggles and hearing protection) was minimal. Workers in foreign-owned companies were significantly more likely to use all of the types of PPE. Although there is still room for improvement in foreign-owned companies, locally-owned companies should be able to attain similar PPE use to that in foreign-owned companies. Road construction companies should place a premium on health and safety issues by hiring safety managers with professional training, providing staff with PPE, and training them on proper usage, as well as adopting safety protocols.