Background: To determine the potential risk factors for injury, estimate the annual injury rate and examine the safety perceptions, and use of personal protective equipment among small-scale gold miners in Ghana.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out with 494 small-scale gold miners from four major mining districts in Ghana. A household-based approach was used to obtain a representative sample of miners. The study was conducted from June 2015 to August 2016. A systematic sampling technique was used to select households and recruit respondents to interview. Miners were asked about any mining related injury that they had sustained in the past year. A logistics regression model was employed to examine the association between risk factors and injury. Data were analyzed with STATA version 14.0.
Results: The annual incidence rate of mining-related injury was 289 per 1000 workers. Injuries were mainly caused by machinery/tools 66(46.1%), followed by slip/falls 46(32.2%). The major risk factor for injury was underground work (adjusted odds ratio for injury 3.19; 95% CI = 1.42-7.20) compared with surface work. Higher education levels were protective, with adjusted odds ratios of 0.48 (95% CI = 0.24-0.99) for middle school education and 0.38 (95% CI 0.17-0.83) for secondary school compared with no schooling. Only 15(3.0%) of miners reported to have had safety training in the past year and 105(21.3%) indicated that there were safety regulations at their work place. A moderate number of workers reported using work boots 178(36.0%) and hand gloves 134(27.1%), but less than 10% of workers used other personal protective equipment.
Conclusion: The annual injury incidence rate among small-scale gold miners is high. Potential targets for improving safety include increasing safety training, increasing use of personal protective equipment, and better understanding potential changes that can be made in the machinery and tools used in small-scale mining, which were associated with almost half of all injuries.
Keywords: Gold; Mining; Personal protective equipment, injury; Safety; Small-scale.