568 An assessment of perceptions and knowledge of chemical hazards in the motor spray painting industry in bulawayo

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IntroductionThe motor vehicle repair industry with particular focus on spray painting in Bulawayo has grown especially after dollarization in 2009, owing to the increasing number of vehicles in the city. The industry is made up of both the formal and informal repairers with the informal sector registering the largest growth compared to their formal counterparts due to the low prices they charge. This industry has not been spared either from the occupational safety and health scourge that continues to haunt the Zimbabwean economy.MethodsA descriptive and cross sectional study of companies in both the formal and informal sector was carried out. Twenty five factories were visited and twenty five spray painters were interviewed. The research combined the use of observations guided by a checklist and a questionnaire administered to employees in this sector to collect data.Result96% of the employees interviewed are in the 21–40 age groups, were predominantly male, with very few females found in the workshops. There is generally a high exposure to chemicals which the employees are fully aware of but PPE/C use was low during the spraying process. The spraying process in the informal sector is done in the open while in the formal sector, booths maybe available ventilation and chemical exposure design are a cause of concern. The majority of workers have general awareness on the manifestation of health effects stemming from their work but do not have an understanding of how these could affect their health.ConclusionLack of chemical safety education in these organisations is a major factor contributing to the continued exposure to chemicals in the workplace. Mandatory training for initial certification to operate and work a spray painting workshop and refresher training after a certain period of time for example every two years by the government is therefore recommended.

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