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Abstracts of the 2019 Annual Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, August 25-28 2019, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders among e-waste workers at Agbogbloshie in Accra, Ghana

A, Acquah1; J, Arko-Mensah1; C, D’Souza2; B, Martin2; I, Quakyi1; T, Robins3; J, Fobil1

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Environmental Epidemiology: October 2019 - Volume 3 - Issue - p 2-3
doi: 10.1097/01.EE9.0000605616.87684.ec
  • Open

PDS 72: Environmental health issues in LMIC, Exhibition Hall (PDS), Ground floor, August 28, 2019, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Background/Aim: E-waste recycling at Agbogbloshie consists mainly of collection, dismantling and burning of electronic waste. Processes involved are highly informal and physically demanding, consisting of varying levels of lifting, torso bending and twisting, prolonged sitting and standing. These activities are likely to cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Thus far, studies on adverse health effects of e-waste recycling have focused ostensibly on chemicals and/or particulate matter. This study investigated the prevalence of MSDs among e-waste workers at Agbogbloshie, Accra Ghana; one of the world’s largest e-waste recycling sites.

Methods: The Cornell musculoskeletal discomfort questionnaire was used to obtain information on the occurrence of MSDs in 11 specific body regions of 163 e-waste workers. Descriptive statistics was used to summarize information on MSD prevalence. Chi-squared and regression analyses were used to examine relationships between e-waste recycling job categories and MSD frequency and severity.

Results: The study sample consisted of 70 collectors, 73 dismantlers and 20 burners working an average of 6 days per week, for an average duration of 9.95 ± 2.43 hours per day. Analysis indicated an overall MSD prevalence of 90% among e-waste workers. The 6 body regions where MSDs were most commonly reported included the lower back (65%), knee (39%), shoulder (37%), upper arm (30%), lower leg (27%) and neck (26%) respectively. Significant associations between e-waste job category and the frequency (p = 0.032) and severity (p = 0.005) of MSDs were found. For collectors the odds of developing knee and lower leg MSDs were 0.08(0.01-0.67) and 0.17(0.07-0.43) respectively compared to dismantlers. For dismantlers, the odds of developing MSD in the upper arm was 0.08(0.01-0.67) compared to burners.

Conclusions: E-waste workers in Agbogbloshie experience an alarmingly high prevalence of MSDs. Reducing the occurrence of MSDs among e-waste workers will require effecting change through contextually and locally adapted ergonomic interventions.

Copyright © 2019 The Authors. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of Environmental Epidemiology. All rights reserved.