Effectiveness of Health and Safety Training in Reducing Occupational Injuries Among Harvesting Forestry Contractors in KwaZulu-Natal

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Abstract

Forestry work is generally characterized by a combination of personal and environmental risks in health and safety. Employers need to ensure intensive and continuous safety training to mitigate these risks; however, the efficacy of this training is seldom evaluated. The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of health and safety training in reducing injuries and improving knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions toward safety among forestry workers in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa. A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among 300 harvesting contract workers employed at a forestry company in KZN. A questionnaire to assess the efficiency of health and safety training was administered. In addition, a retrospective review of the injury register and medical records of employees who sustained work-related injuries from 2009 to 2013 was completed. The company injury data for harvesting contractors reported 68 lost-time injuries during postcommencement of training. Slip, trip, and fall injuries were the most reported cause of injuries, particularly among manual harvesters. Respondents who were male, younger in age, and with less experience had an increased risk of occupational injury. Most participants displayed adequate knowledge of safety and were able to translate training into practice. The health and safety training initiative was successful in reducing injuries and increasing workers’ awareness of, and responsibility for, health and safety issues.

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