The processing of cassava into different staple foods, including gari, comes with occupational and environmental hazards. This research aimed at assessing the awareness of occupational health hazards associated with the processing of cassava (Manihot esculenta) into Gari, environmental impact and factors that influence the wearing of personal protective equipment. Ninety (90) Gari producers were randomly selected from Awutu Senya, Central Tongu and Ayensuano Districts of Ghana and interviewed using structured and semi-structured questionnaire. Results revealed that Gari producing industry was dominated by women (78.9%). The majority of cassava processors in the study area were aware of health hazards associated with the production of gari. However, most did not take measures to reduce or mitigate exposure to health risk. The Gari industry was less attractive to people above 60 years (8.9%). Training on occupational safety and health risk was low among processors. The usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) by processors was low. Only 3.3%, 16 and 17.8% used footwear, working gear and coat, respectively, during processing. Factors that influenced processors' decision to use PPE included years of experience in processing, knowledge of health risk associated with the processing of cassava into Gari, awareness of protective equipment and a visit to health facility relating to condition sustained at work. Producers were aware of the environmental effects of Cassava-mill effluent but did not treat effluents before discharge into the environment. Some environmental effects of mill cassava effluent identified by the gari producers were; reduction in soil productivity, destruction of vegetation cover, the killing of trees and bad odour. The low level of education and training accounted for the low usage of PPEs.
Cassava effluent, Gari processing, Health risk, Environment, Protective equipment
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