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Working in a risky environment: Coping and Risk Handling Strategies among Small-scale Miners in Ghana

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  • Rejoice Selorm Wireko-Gyebi, University of Energy and Natural Resources, Ghana
  • Albert Abraham Arhin, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  • Imoro Braimah, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  • Rudith Sylvana King, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  • Anne Mette Lykke

Background: It is estimated that about 13 million artisanal and small-scale miners carry out their activities under harsh, precarious, unfriendly, and risky conditions. Yet, our understanding of the extent to which these workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) and navigate through the various risks and hazards they face is still limited. This article has two main objectives. First, it explores the extent of usage of PPE among artisanal and small-scale miners for the prevention of hazards and risks. Second, it examines the coping strategies used by these miners as a response to experiences of occupational injuries and risks Methods: A cross-sectional survey of small-scale miners was conducted in six communities across three districts in Ghana, West Africa. The mixed methods approach was adopted. A total of 148 small-scale miners participated in the study. Six focus group discussions (FGDs) were held across the six communities. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Chi-square tests were used to analyse the relationship between some socio-demographic characteristics (sex, age, and educational background) and the usage of PPE. Open-ended questions and responses from FGDs were analysed based on the content and verbatim quotations from miners. Results: Findings suggest that 78% of the miners interviewed do not use the appropriate PPE citing reasons such as cost, and their personal discomfort associated with use of PPE. There was no significant relationship between socio-demographic characteristics (i.e., sex, age, education and major mining activity) and the usage of PPE. The study further revealed four main coping strategies used by miners to handle the risks. These are rest, taking unprescribed medication and hard drugs, registration with health insurance scheme and savings and investments. Conclusion: This study shows that very few artisanal miners use PPE despite the significant hazards and risks to which they are exposed. The study recommends to the government to put in place measures to ensure that miners adhere to health and safety regulations before undertaking mining activities. This means that health and safety plans and use of PPE should be linked to the license acquisition process for miners.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSafety and Health at Work
Pages (from-to)163-169
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

    Research areas

  • Hazards, Personal protective equipment, Risk, Small-scale mining

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