WHO stated that in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, including Sudan, about 15–50% of the labor force is employed in the industrial sector. Most of these countries have several constraints that hinder occupational health and safety services at the national, local, and facility levels. These constraints are the lack of enabling legislation, standards, expertise, employer participation, resources, and coordination between the concerned authorities. Other limitations include lack of educational programs and the conflict in roles among the various responsible authorities 1,2.
Appraising safety performance is an essential part of occupational safety and health management systems. It enables decision makers to improve occupational safety and health. The traditional approach to appraise safety performance is through record keeping and statistical analysis of incident-related data (i.e. number of injuries; accident incidence, frequency, and severity rates; disabling and fatal accident frequency rates). This approach is often referred to as retrospective or a lagging indicator. Lagging indicators are criticized as being measuring system failures. Therefore, they appear to have little predictive value 3. Under-reporting is another problem as emphasis on injury and ill health rates, particularly when related to rewarding systems, can lead to minor events not being reported 4.
Despite the disadvantages of the lagging indicators, they are suitable for industrial enterprises in developing countries. This may be attributed to its ease of understanding by both managers and employees. Moreover, incident data are relatively easier to collect and facilitate benchmarking with other organizations or with national data 4.
In Sudan, article number 92 of the 1997 Sudan Labor code imposes each owner of a manufacturing facility to inform the competent authority of any serious accident. The labor code defines an accident as an event that leads to a worker’s death, fire, explosion, severe injury, or prevents the worker from performing his/her job 5. However, this article remained inactive until 2005, when the Ministry of Manpower imposed keeping accident records in the administration of industrial safety. Before that period, there was no appraisal of accident data, statistics, or safety performance in any Sudanese enterprise. Khartoum state is the capital of Sudan. It contains three cities: Khartoum, Bahari, and Omdorman. Larger industrial enterprises, which are keener on the use of formal instructions, are located primarily in Khartoum state 1.
Within the limits of our knowledge, studies on the evaluation of safety performance in industrial sectors of Khartoum state are limited in the literature. This study aimed at evaluating and comparing safety performance by accident records in different cities and industrial sectors of Khartoum state, Sudan, during the period from 2005 to 2007.
Materials and methods
This study was a retrospective study that reviewed all industrial accident records of the Ministry of Manpower and Health during the period from 2005 to 2007. The records of the Ministry of Manpower stated that Khartoum state contained 320 industrial enterprises that employ 18 878 workers. To ensure the availability of accident records, all enterprises employing 50 workers or more in Khartoum state were included in this study. Thus, the sample comprised 89 enterprises employing 10 811 workers. The sample was classified into six industrial sectors according to the International Labor Organization 6 and European Commission classifications 7. These sectors included food, chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering, metallurgic, construction, and other sectors, comprising printing, packaging, textile, furniture, and leather industries. Table 1 summarizes the selected sample in terms of the number and percentage of enterprises and workers in each sector and city.
Data were collected from the accident records of the enterprise and those of the Administration of Industrial Safety – Ministry of Manpower. The collected data included accidents that occurred during the period from 2005 to 2007. The used accident parameters were incidence, frequency, and severity rates (IR, FR, and SR); the frequency–severity index (FSI); and fatal and disabling accident frequency rates (FAFR and DAFR, respectively) 8. FSI was used instead of IR, FR, and SR as it represents the combined integrated effect of FR and SR and has high correlation with IR 8,9. Therefore, the used safety performance indicators (SPIs) in this study were FSI, FAFR, and DAFR.
Data were entered and statistically analyzed using SPSS (version 16; SPSS Inc., Chicago, Illinois, USA). Kolmogrov–Smirov and Shapiro–Wilk tests were used to investigate the normality of the numeric data. Descriptive statistics, including the median, first and third quartiles (Q1 and Q3), and the interquartile range (IQR) were analyzed. Both Mann–Whitney and Kruskal–Wallis tests of significance were used to detect the significance of variation between two and more than two classes of data, respectively 10.
The sample of 89 enterprises, each employing 50 workers or more, in Khartoum state was distributed among the three cities and six industrial sectors. The studied sample recorded 371 occupational accidents during the period from 2005 to 2007, of which 282 accidents (76.0%) caused injuries, 75 (20.2%) led to disability, and 14 (3.8%) led to fatalities. There were no records for near miss accidents.
Khartoum city had the highest number of enterprises and workers, followed by Bahari and Omdurman. It also had the greatest number of accidents, fatalities, and disabilities, followed by Omdurman and Bahari. The highest number of enterprises and workers was observed in the construction sector, followed by food, metallurgic, and chemical sectors. The food sector recorded the maximum number of accidents, disabilities, and fatalities, followed by construction, chemical, metallurgic, mechanical and electrical engineering, and other sectors (Table 2).
The six SPIs did not follow normal distribution. Thus, they were expressed as median (‘middle number’ in a sorted list of numbers) and IQR (the difference between the 75th percentile and the 25th percentile). The IQR is essentially the range of the middle 50% of the data, and as it uses the middle 50%, it is not affected by outliers or extreme values. With regard to the city in which the enterprises are present, the FSI, FAFR, and DAFR were the highest in Omdurman city, followed by Bahari and Khartoum (Figs 1 and 2). The Kruskal–Wallis test showed statistically significant variations of FSI, FAFR, and DAFR [P<0.05, 95% confidence interval (CI)] among the three cities. Further analysis using the Mann–Whitney test revealed highly significant differences among the three SPIs between Khartoum and Omdurman, as well as Omdurman and Bahari (P<0.05, 95% CI). The three SPIs exhibited highly significant moderate Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients with regard to the city in which the enterprise was present (Table 3).
With regard to the industrial sectors, the chemical sector had the highest FSI and DAFR (Figs 3 and 4). The metallurgic sector had the lowest FSI (Fig. 3). FAFR was the maximum in the mechanical and electrical engineering sector (Fig. 3). The Kruskal–Wallis test revealed nonsignificant variations of FSI, FAFR, and DAFR among the six industrial sectors (P>0.05, 95%CI). Industrial sectors showed weak highly significant Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients with regard to FSI and DAFR (Table 3).
With regard to the injured workers, the highest FSI and DAFR were recorded among workers of the age group 20–30 years, followed by those of the age group 30–40 years and then by those more than 40 years of age (Table 4). The Kruskal–Wallis test showed highly significant results (P<0.05, 95% CI) with the age groups of injured workers. Further analysis using the Mann–Whitney test revealed significant differences (P<0.05, 95% CI) in FSI and DAFR between each pair of age groups. The age of the injured workers showed inverse highly significant Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients with regard to FSI and DAFR (Table 3).
Male workers had lower FSI and DAFR compared with female workers (Table 4). The Mann–Whitney test revealed highly significant differences in FSI and DAFR between the two genders. The sex of the injured workers exhibited a moderate highly significant Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient with regard to the SPIs (Table 3).
As the educational level of injured workers increased, the SPIs increased (Tables 3 and 4). The Kruskal–Wallis test indicated the highly significant variation in FSI and DAFR among the four educational levels of the injured workers (P<0.05, 95% CI).
The FSI values were nearly equal in the case of injured workers who were single, married, or widowers and were higher than that for divorced workers. DAFR in the case of married workers was the highest followed by those for widowers, single workers, and divorced workers. The SPIs revealed very weak nonsignificant Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients with regard to marital status of the injured workers (Table 3). The Kruskal–Wallis test exhibited a nonsignificant effect of the marital status of the injured workers on the SPIs (Table 4). Administrative tasks showed higher FSI and DAFR compared with engineering, technical, and assistant technical duties. The Kruskal–Wallis test showed a nonsignificant effect of the job title of the injured workers on SPIs (P≥0.05, 95% CI).
Occupational safety performance of industrial sectors in Khartoum city was the best, followed by those in Bahari and Omdurman. Safety performance of the chemical sector was the worst. It was influenced by many factors, including organization (city and industrial sector) and factors related to injured workers (age, sex, and educational level). The absence of near miss accident records and the inadequacy of the recording system in Sudan, like in many developing countries, were the obstacles to appraisal of safety performance 2.
The number of recorded fatal accidents during the period from 2005 to 2007 in Khartoum State, Sudan, was much lower than the number of nonfatal accidents, as mentioned in a Korean study during 1991–1994 11. Contrary to that seen in Omdurman, Khartoum city, with modern industrial technologies and the highest number of workers, had the lowest SPIs. This was attributed to the fact that SPIs decrease with an increase in modernization of technologies 12 and the total number of workers 8. Moreover, large enterprises, which apply stricter safety rules, are located mainly in this city, as stated by the World Bank Document, December 2009 1. With regard to the industrial sectors, Grote 13 classified the chemical sector as one of the high-risk industries as a result of poor safety management. This supports the result of the present study, which indicated that the chemical sector had the highest levels of SPIs.
Considering the demographic data of the injured workers, male workers who were older and had lower levels of education had the lowest levels of SPIs. Better safety performance among older workers was also observed in two recent studies from Hong Kong 14 and USA 15. This was because older workers were more experience and had better safety sense. In addition, the tasks of elderly workers may be changed to supervision rather than production activities. The American and Spanish studies concluded that higher accident rates and lower safety performance among male workers was because of the limited employment of female workers in many production sectors 16,17. This conflict may be attributed to the age group rather than the sex of the injured workers. With regard to the educational level, the worst safety performance, in the case of workers with a higher education level, was contradictory to that reported in other studies 18,19. This conflict may be attributed to the occurrence of one transportation accident that caused injuries to 24 administrative workers, among whom 11 had university and 13 had secondary levels of education. This transportation accident was misleading as it produced an inverse relationship between safety performance and level of education. In addition, enterprises with lower numbers of workers were observed to have a larger number of injuries among highly educated workers because of the ignorance of safety rules 17. The USA and Spanish studies support the weak correlation between SPIs and marital status and job title, respectively 15,17.
Conclusion and recommendations
The safety performance of the industrial enterprises in Khartoum city was better than that in Bahari and Omdurman. With regard to FSI and DAFR, the chemical sector had the worst safety performance, whereas in terms of FAFR, the mechanical and electrical engineering industry had the worst safety performance. Male workers who are older and have a lower level of education have better safety performance. The impact of marital status and job title of the injured workers was not obvious in the present data.
The present study reports that efforts must be made to reduce transportation accidents. These efforts include training of bus drivers in the industrial enterprises and maintenance of both buses and roads. Development of training programs is recommended to improve safety performance and the occupational safety and health management system in the industrial enterprises. The training programs must cover workers, occupational safety and health management system staff, and supervisors. Further, updating industrial technology in Omdorman and Bahary cities is important. The industrial health and safety administration must focus on recording both near miss and major accidents.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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Keywords:© 2012 Egyptian Public Health Association
accident parameters; accident records; frequency rate; frequency–severity index; lagging safety meters; safety performance indicators; severity rate