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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 128-133

Awareness of health hazards and use of personal protective equipment among fuel pump attendants in Benin City, Nigeria


1 Department of Medical Laboratory Science, School of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
2 Department of Medical Laboratory Science, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
3 Department of Medical Laboratory Science, College of Natural and Applied Sciences, Achievers University, Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria

Date of Submission08-Sep-2020
Date of Decision28-Oct-2020
Date of Acceptance30-Oct-2020
Date of Web Publication11-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Mathias Abiodun Emokpae
Department of Medical Laboratory Science, School of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/njecp.njecp_35_20

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  Abstract 


Background: Petroleum products contain various volatile and organic compounds which have serious health implications on humans. Awareness of health hazards associated with petroleum product exposure by workers in petrol stations will enable these workers to have appropriate information regarding the risks of their occupation. Aim: The aim of the study was to assess the level of awareness of health hazards and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by fuel pump attendants in Benin City, Nigeria. Methods: Exactly 90 participants (66 males and 24 females, age range 18–46 years) were evaluated. The health hazard awareness was assessed by the use of investigator-administered questionnaires. The questionnaire was open ended and divided into sections such as sociodemography and lifestyle, knowledge of health hazards and PPE, use of PPE, and duration of exposure. Data were analyzed by Chi-square and odds ratio (OR) was used to correlate the likelihood of association between variables. Results: Some 95.6% of respondents were aware of at least one type of PPE, 24.4% were aware of the health hazards of petroleum products, and only 18.8% actually use a type of PPE. The awareness of health hazards and use of PPE correlated positively with educational status (OR: 5.123, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.8–20.18; OR: 40.2, 95% CI: 18.25–273.111) and duration of employment (OR: 2.00, 95% CI: 1.96–18.20; OR: 4.00, 95% CI: 1.60–15.81), respectively. The observance of safety measures by these workers is paramount since there is no safe limit of exposure to some of the components of hydrocarbon. Enforcement of the use of PPE and the promotion of strategies to minimize exposure of workers is imperative.

Keywords: Fuel pump attendants, Nigeria, personal protective equipment


How to cite this article:
Emokpae MA, Oyakhire FO, Kolawole JJ. Awareness of health hazards and use of personal protective equipment among fuel pump attendants in Benin City, Nigeria. Niger J Exp Clin Biosci 2020;8:128-33

How to cite this URL:
Emokpae MA, Oyakhire FO, Kolawole JJ. Awareness of health hazards and use of personal protective equipment among fuel pump attendants in Benin City, Nigeria. Niger J Exp Clin Biosci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 14];8:128-33. Available from: https://www.njecbonline.org/text.asp?2020/8/2/128/309171




  Introduction Top


Awareness of health hazards associated with petroleum products exposure by workers in petrol stations will enable these workers to have appropriate information regarding the risks of their occupation. With industrialization, the use of petroleum products has increased tremendously all over the world and petroleum product distribution businesses are rapidly expanding. Therefore, more workers are daily recruited to work in these stations as petrol pump attendants. Petroleum products contain various volatile compounds.[1],[2] These organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, xylene (BTEX), cadmium, lead, and arsenic which are present in premium motor spirit or gasoline could evaporate easily, inhaled, and absorbed through the skin when they come in contact with the human skin during pumping of fuel into vehicles.[3],[4] Apart from the contributions of BTEX to ozone depletion, increase in greenhouse gasses, and global warming, they also cause serious health hazards such as disorders of the central nervous system;[5],[6] lung cancer, bladder cancer, and leukemia;[4],[7] increased risk of cardiopulmonary diseases;[8] and infertility.[9],[10] These health hazards that are associated with exposure to petrol fumes are raising concerns for workers occupationally exposed.[1],[3]

Although there are extant rules available to minimize the exposure of petrol pump attendants to these hazards, it is doubtful if these rules are strictly adhered to. For example, the permissible exposure limit (the time or duration of exposure which is considered safe for the workers at a given time) may not be adequately obeyed. The observance of the two categories of permissible exposure limit “a time-weighted average of 8 h working exposure/day and the short-term exposure limit of 15 min of working exposure per day”[11] may not be practicable. It is the responsibility of governments and within enterprises to adopt a coherent national occupational safety and health (OSH) policy that promotes OSH and improves working conditions to prevent occupational injuries, diseases, and death.[12]

Adequate knowledge of the hazards of petroleum product exposure is important to ensure that the workers maintain standard work practices to avoid or minimize the risk associated with their occupation.[13],[14] Studies have indicated that the level of awareness of petroleum tanker drivers was significantly associated with the observance of safety measures at the workplace.[15] There is a however dearth of information on the awareness levels and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) among fuel pump attendants in our setting. This study seeks to assess the level of awareness of health hazards and the use of PPE by fuel pump attendants in Benin City, Nigeria.


  Materials and Methods Top


Study design and population

This is a cross-sectional study of occupationally exposed fuel pump attendants who had been occupationally exposed for 1 year and above and only those who met the inclusion criteria were recruited using a simple random stratified sampling technique. They consist of 90 participants (66 males and 24 females). They were individuals from different ethnic groups, educational status, and marital status. The health hazard awareness was assessed by the use of investigator-administered questionnaires. The questionnaire was open ended and divided into sections such as sociodemography and lifestyle, knowledge of health hazards and PPE, use of PPE, and duration of exposure.

The sample size was determined using the sample size determination formula for health studies and prevalence of exposure to petrol fumes of 96.7%.[16]

Ethical consideration

The study protocol was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of Edo State Ministry of Health, Benin City (ethical code HM1208/157, dated June 8, 2017). Permission was also obtained from the depot managers of various petrol stations and informed consent was obtained from individual subjects before the commencement of the study.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Fuel pump attendants aged between 18 and 45 years and who gave consent were enrolled in the study, while those who did not give consent were excluded from the study.

Data collection

The investigators conducted an individual interview with the fuel pump attendants using a semi-structured questionnaire. The questionnaire was made of open questions on age, level of education, and duration of employment in years. Questions on awareness of hazards of petrol contamination/inhalation (contamination), awareness of PPE, and use of PPE were structured. The respondents were initially asked to list the hazards of fuel fumes and contamination, followed by probing questions on specific hazards, fuel fumes, contamination, and spillage asked with yes and no answers. For awareness and use of PPE, the fuel pump attendants were requested to name the PPE, they were aware of and they used it. This was then followed by yes and no option for use of boots, aprons, hand gloves, goggles, earplugs, and uniforms and an open option for any other equipment for use for protection. They were asked to show the PPE they use at the workplace.

Statistical analysis

The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS version 21.0, IBM, Chicago, IL, USA). Bivariate/multivariate analysis for categorical data was done using Chi-square (χ2) test, while the strength of association was determined using odds ratio (OR) and the level of statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.


  Results Top


[Table 1] shows the sociodemographic characteristics of the study participants. The differences in the age range (P < 0.001), sex (P < 0.001) and educational status were statistically significant, while the difference in the marital status was not significant insignificant (P > 0.05). The results show that 95% of the respondents were aware of at least one type of PPE. The awareness of the different types of PPEs by respondents was significant (P < 0.002) [Table 2]. [Table 3] indicates that only 22% of the fuel pump attendants were aware of one or more health hazards of petroleum product exposure. Excessive inhalation (80%) was the most common hazard identified by the respondents, followed by skin contamination (20%). There was a correlation between the level of education and awareness of health hazards among respondents with individuals with secondary education were five times more likely to be aware of health hazards of petroleum products exposure (OR: 5.123; 95% CI: 2.8–16.18), while the odds of awareness of health hazards were forty times higher among respondents with tertiary education than primary education (OR: 40.2; 95% CI: 18.25–218.11). The duration of employment was observed to be correlated with the awareness of hazards among respondents (P < 0.001). The probability of fuel pump attendants being aware of hazards increases with the duration of employment. Those who had spent 6–10 years were two times more likely to be aware of hazards than those who had spent <5 years (OR: 2.00; 95% CI: 1.96–13.20), while those who had spent more than 10 years were 4 times likely to be more aware of health hazards compared to those who had spent <5 years on the job (OR: 4.00; 95% CI: 1.60–15.81). [Table 4] shows that only 18.8% of respondents admit using one form of PPE or another and 47.7% were not using any form of PPE, while 33.3% of the respondents failed to respond to the question. The use of PPE was significantly lower (P < 0.013) when compared with those who do not use PPE. The likelihood of using PPE at the workplace was twice as high among respondents who are aware of the health hazards of petroleum products than those who are not aware (OR: 2.01; 95% CI: 1.78–12.4). The duration of employment correlated with the use of PPE (OR: 4.06; 95% CI: 1.92–7.21).
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics of participants

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Table 2: Awareness of types of personal protective devices

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Table 3: Factors associated with awareness of health hazards among fuel pump attendants

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Table 4: Factors associated with the use of personal protective equipment among fuel pump attendants

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  Discussion Top


Adequate knowledge of health hazards and the use of safety measures by petrol pump attendants are vital to preventing and/or minimizing a lot of health risks associated with petroleum product exposure. This knowledge needs to be investigated, judging from the way the fuel pump attendants conduct themselves at the workplace. Occupational health is geared toward the promotion and maintenance of the highest degree of physical, mental, and social well-being of workers in their work environment.[17] In this study, it was observed that 95% of the respondents were aware of one form of PPE or the other, 24.4% were aware of the health hazards of petroleum products contamination, but only 18.8% actually use one or more PPE at the workplace. The level of education and duration of employment correlated with knowledge of health hazards, awareness of PPE, and the use of PPE by respondents.

Most of the fuel pump attendants (62.2%) in the study were in the age range of 18–25 years. This is slightly different from the study of chemical hazards awareness of petrol tankers drivers[18] where most of the drivers (40.3%) belong to the age range of 36–45 years and the least (27.4%) belong to the age range 18–35 years. The observed age range of workers in our study is consistent with that reported among welders in Nigeria.[19] Most of the welders (40.3%) were within the range of 20–29 years. On the contrary, it was reported that about 48% of the welders in Nepal were in the category of 30–39 years[20] and 44.5% by other authors.[21]

It is interesting to know that 95.6% of fuel pump attendants were aware of one or more types of PPE, but only 24.4% of them had knowledge of one or more hazards of petroleum product exposure. This is consistent with other studies on the assessment of chemical hazards among tanker drivers.[18] It was observed that tanker drivers do have some knowledge of the product that they are working with, but only very few were aware of the health hazards of the products they transport. The authors further stated that although some of the tanker drivers were more knowledgeable than the others, 80.6% of them reported having gained their knowledge by going through in-service training and classes, 17.7% obtained their knowledge via reading, while 1.6% through discussion. Although data on in-service training are not available in this study, its importance was reported as a suitable means of providing knowledge to employees. Some authors have shown that a short training session can improve employees' knowledge and improvement of workplace practices.[20] Similarly, it was stated that the awareness level of a worker on occupational risk is closely associated with the provision of proper knowledge and understanding of the subject.[14] It was recommended that the provision of an effective training module will improve the awareness level of occupationally exposed workers. The use of a module based on the capability to learn due to the workers' education status and practical implementation can further increase the understanding of the employees on the health hazards of petroleum products.[22]

All the respondents in this study had a formal education, the educational status of respondents had a significant correlation with the awareness of hazard (P < 0.001), awareness of PPE (P < 0.002), and use of PPE (P < 0.001). This is consistent with 93% of welders who had formal education and the educational level correlated with level of awareness, knowledge, and use of PPE.[20] It was reported that with higher educational status among the population, awareness and safety practices also increased. Fuel pump attendants who have had a higher level of education were more likely to obtain updates that increase their awareness of hazards and PPE, and they were more likely to employ safety measures and increase the practice of safety measures like the use of PPE at workplaces.

Data from this study indicated that more males than females are employed as fuel pump attendants. This is in agreement with a previous study among petroleum and allied industry workers.[23] This is contrary to the outcome of another study in Boston, the United States of America, where more females than males were employed.[24] Most petrol station workers are men, but women were also involved and exposure to petroleum contaminants among women can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as intrauterine growth restriction and low birth weight of infants.[25]

The environment of the petrol station exposes workers to several hazards such as aromatic hydrocarbons, BTEX, and other components of gasoline and chemical solvents.[25] This BTEX poses the highest risk of cancer development as a result of occupational and environmental exposure.[26] The authors of a surveillance health actions and programs to curb exposure to BTEX in Brazil suggested that proper education on the correct use of PPE, hygiene, and collection of protective measures are necessary to minimize exposure.[27] Some authors have suggested that health professionals should use their clinical knowledge and implement individual and collective interventions to influence the thinking as well as actions of fuel station workers with regards to their health and health risk factors.[28]

In Nigeria, most of the petrol stations are built without adherence to government regulations and safety practices for obtaining an operating license.[29] The presence and enforcement of safety policies and provision of PPE seem to be lacking in most fuel stations. More importantly, petroleum industry watchers have expressed displeasure over the delay in passing the petroleum industry bill into law, thereby creating uncertainties regarding purposeful implementation of relevant policies to addressing most of the loopholes in the management and governance of the sector, oversight function of the regulatory authority and making PPE available for workers.

Fuel pump attendants who had spent more than 10 years on the job were more likely to use PPE than others who had spent fewer years on the employment. This is consistent with the report from Brazil.[25] Chronic exposure without the use of PPE is detrimental to health of workers. A study had reported a higher level of hippuric acid which is a biologic indicator of toluene among petrol station workers who had up to 21 years on the job.[30] Cumulative exposure to benzene has been reported to cause leukemia among workers.[31]


  Conclusion Top


The study has shown that 95.6% of fuel pump attendants are aware of one or more types of PPE, 24.4% of them were aware of health hazards, but only 18.8% actually use one form of PPE or another. Educational status and duration of employment as fuel pump attendants are associated with the use of PPE. Although several organizations such as OSH act, National Institute of Industrial Safety and Health, and African Refiners Association have specifications for maximum allowable exposure levels for BTEX compounds, there appears to be an absence or near absence of pump infrastructure control for BTEX exposure mitigation. Vapor recovery technologies at fuel filling stations and regular monitoring of blood levels of BTEX compounds in occupationally exposed workers are suggested. The observance of safety measures by these workers is important since there is no safe limit of exposure to most of the components of petroleum products. Enforcement of the use of PPE and the promotion of strategies to minimize exposure of workers is imperative.

Acknowledgments

We appreciate the contributions of fuel station managers and depot manager toward the success of this study.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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