Prevalence of occupational injury and its contributing factors among rubber tappers in Galle, Sri Lanka.
BACKGROUND: Rubber tapping involves carrying heavy loads, navigating rough terrain, and using sharp tools. However, little is known about occupational injury among this vulnerable working population. OBJECTIVE: To assesses the prevalence, severity, and contributing factors associated with occupational injury among Sri Lankan rubber tappers and to identify possible interventions to improve occupational safety. METHODS: A questionnaire was administered to 300 Sri Lankan rubber tappers. The associations between tapper characteristics and injury within the last year were examined using log-binomial regression models. Short response answers were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: 300 tappers reported 594 injuries in the previous 12 months, and missed 1,080 days of work. The prevalence of one or more injuries was 49%. Factors associated with injury were being female, working an additional job, tapping with a two-handed approach, and depressive symptomology. Qualitative findings suggest three interventions to address injuries: (1) landscaping, (2) personal protective equipment, and (3) provision of eyeglasses. CONCLUSIONS: Work-related injuries are common among Sri Lankan rubber tappers. These results highlight the importance of working with and including informal workers in the creation of Sri Lankan occupational health and safety regulations. We believe that the three interventions identified by respondents could help to reduce the risk of occupational injury among rubber tappers.
Stankevitz, K; Staton, C; Schoenfisch, A; de Silva, V; Tharindra, H; Stroo, M; Ostbye, T
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