CHARACTERISTICS OF EMPLOYEES IN THE SMALL-SCALE AND INFORMAL WOOD ENTERPRISES

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CHAPTER 3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK OF THE RESEARCH

INTRODUCTION

This chapter outlines the World Health Organization Healthy Workplace Framework and Model (WHOHWFM) as a theoretical framework (Burton 2010:82) that supports and provides a foundation for the current study. The chapter also defines a healthy workplace and explains the avenues of influence for a healthy workplace and the core principles of the model. The WHOHWFM serves as a universal practical manual that can be adapted by all workplaces irrespective of the size or country to promote healthy and safe culture at workplaces. The elements of the framework can equally be used by employers in the informal setting and applied to workers in unofficial ways if necessary in order to improve their health and safety at work, which is the output of the study.
The WHOHWFM is the underpinning for the present study due to its relevance and role in advocating for occupational health and safety for workers globally and across all sectors. The WHO model and framework outlines brings together the principles and common factors within the physical and psychosocial work environments that appear to be supported across the world and in the perceptions of experts and practitioners in the fields of health, safety and organisational health (Burton 2010:1).
This study set out to reveal the OHS challenges that are faced by small scale informal workers in woodworking enterprises and to seek ways to improve the health and safety culture at work. The main aim is to foster the quality of work life among woodworkers especially those working in the small scale and informal sector where injury rates have been reported to be high. This framework and model therefore offer an applicable base to study challenges faced by these woodworkers in the Fako division of Cameroon.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK SUPPORTING THE CURRENT STUDY

The WHO’s Healthy Workplace Framework and Model was developed by Joan Burton in 2010 primarily to provide some practical guidance to occupational health and/or safety professionals, scientists, and medical practitioners to provide the scientific basis for a healthy workplace framework. It suggests a flexible, evidence-based framework for healthy workplaces that can be applied by employers in collaboration with workers regardless of the sector or size of the enterprise, the level of development, regulatory or cultural background of the country (Burton 2010:1).
The word “framework” in the WHOHWFM is used to describe the key principles and an interpretive explanation of the suggested model for healthy workplaces. While “model” is used to describe the abstract representation of the structure, content, processes and system of the healthy workplace concept (Burton 2010:1). The model contains both the content of the issues that should be dealt with in a healthy workplace and the process that will ensure success and sustainability of healthy workplace initiatives as shown in figure 3.1 (Burton 2010:1).

Definition of a healthy workplace

Many definitions exist for a healthy workplace and all of these definitions take into consideration the WHO’s definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease” (WHO 2014:1). Even though, various definitions are stated in different ways depending on the author, all the definitions emphasise more on the physical and mental well-being of employees. The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific’s definition of a healthy workplace which is adopted for the study states that:
“A healthy workplace is a place where everyone works together to achieve an agreed vision for the health and well-being of workers and the surrounding community. It provides all members of the workforce with physical, psychological, social and organisational conditions that protect and promote health and safety. It enables managers and workers to increase control over their own health and to improve it, and to become more energetic, positive and contented” (Burton 2010:15).

The components of the WHO Healthy Workplace Framework and Model (WHOHWFM)

The WHOHWFM contains the avenues of influence for a healthy workplace, continual improvement process and the core principles. The four avenues of influence which are the core principles of a healthy workplace are discussed forthwith.

Avenues of influence for a healthy workplace

The four avenues that influence a healthy workplace include: (i) the physical work environment, (ii) the psychosocial work environment, (iii) personal health resources in the workplace and (iv) enterprise community involvement (Burton 2010: 83). These are four ways that an employer working in collaboration with employees can influence the health status (the complete physical, mental and social well-being) of not only the workers but also the enterprise as a whole, in terms of its efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. These four areas relate to the content of a healthy workplace programme, not the process. The four avenues outlined above are vital to the framework of our study and was described in detail.

The physical work environment

Physical work environment is defined in the WHOHWFM as the part of the workplace facility that can be detected by human or electronic senses, including the structure, air, machines, furniture, products, chemicals, materials and processes that are present or that occur in the workplace, and which can affect the physical or mental safety, health and well-being of workers (Burton 2010:84). The physical working environment of the employee includes the overall health and safety of the workers including the identifiable workplace, causes of accidents and illnesses. It consists of physical conditions and exposures constitute (such as production or use of certain chemicals, exposure to smoke, dust, fumes, production using technical equipment and machinery work) a central part of work wellbeing that affects employees’ psychosocial and physical health (Foldspang, Michael, Rants, Hjorth, Langholz-Carstensen, Poulsen, Ulf, Ahonen & Aasaess 2014:16). Physical work environment for woodworking workplaces are either indoors or outdoors depending on where the workers choose to perform their task. They might be exposed to physical, biological, chemical and ergonomic hazards that prevail in the physical work environment (Burton 2010:84).
Physical hazards
Physical hazards are hazards that arise at a work due to the influence of various forms of energy and generally perceptible and discernible (Mittlestaedt et al 2000:1). Examples of physical hazards that may pose dangers to workers include: noise, vibration, unhealthy microclimatic, electrical hazards, falls from heights (Burton 2010:84) slips, trips and falls. Slips, trips and falls result in a variety of injuries. Woodworkers may be frequently exposed to hazards such as narrow walkways with obstacle which can cause workers to trip and fall resulting in serious injury and electrical sparks from poorly insulated hand-held sanders leading to electrocution. Workers working in woodshops; which are the setting of the currents study are mostly exposed to physical hazards such as noise, vibration, inadequate lighting and extreme temperatures (Osagbemi et al 2010:327; Steven 2012:280).
Chemical hazards
Chemical hazards refer to health hazards caused by hazardous substances, compounds and particles which may present an immediate or long term injury or illness to people (Safe Work Australia 2012:4). According to Burton (2010:84), chemical hazards in most workplaces results from exposure to solvents, pesticides, asbestos, carbon monoxide, silica and tobacco smoke. In the woodworking workplaces, exposure to large quantities respirable wood dust or chemical compounds like phenol formaldehyde and terpenes used in wood enterprises can lead to a variety of respiratory tract, cancers and skin diseases (Effah et al 2013:126; Rongo & Leon 2005:32).
Biological hazards
Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, are organic substances that pose a threat to the health of humans and other living organisms. They include: pathogenic micro-organisms, viruses, toxins (from biological sources), spores, fungi, bioactive substances and can also include biological vectors or transmitters of disease (Safe Work Australia 2011:1). The WHOHWFM refers to biological hazards as hazards resulting from exposure to biological agents such as mould, pandemic threats, food or water-borne pathogens, lack of clean water, toilets and hygiene facilities. Examples of biological hazards at woodworking workplaces include woodworkers’ exposure to moulds, amounts of spores and mycelia fragment of fungi that grows on stored wooddust, planks and chips may cause strong antibody responses and respiratory disorders or organic dust toxic syndromes.
Ergonomic hazards/manual handling hazards
Ergonomic hazards, as described by the WHOHWFM in Burton (2010:84) are hazards resulting from the use of excessive force, awkward posture when working, performing repetitive work, heavy lifting of load and engaging in activities that lead to prolonged static postures. The work of a woodworker in the wood industry necessitates bending awkwardly to push and lift heavy logs of planks onto the work table and maintaining the same standing position for hours to plan and sandpaper the wood with the head bent downward.
Mechanical hazards
Mechanical hazards are created as a result of either powered or manual (human) use of tools, equipment or machinery and plants. Examples of mechanical hazards are related to nip points, cranes, forktrucks (Burton 2010:84). Mechanical hazards occur in three basic areas: at the point where work is performed, in the power transmission apparatus and in other moving parts. In the woodshop, the action of moving parts of the working equipment such as bandsaw, planer, hand-held sanders and table saws may have sufficient force in motion to cause injury to woodworkers.
Hazard control of physical work environment hazards
According to Burton (2010:84), potential hazards within a physical work environment can cause illnesses and injuries and thus must be hazard identification and risk assessment (HIRA) and controlled through a hierarchy of controls that include elimination or substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment, preferably in that order. Hierarchy of controls involve the process to identify control options, select controls, develop and update a hazard control plan, select controls to protect workers during non-routine operations and emergencies, implement selected controls in the workplace and follow up to confirm that controls are effective. Effective controls protect workers from workplace hazards; help avoid injuries, illnesses, and incidents; minimise or eliminate safety and health risks; and help employers provide workers with safe and healthful working conditions.
(i) Elimination (including substitution)
This involves the complete removal of the hazard from the workplace, or substitution (replacement) of hazardous materials or machines with less hazardous ones. For example, the regular removal of wood dust from the floor removes sources of mould in the woodshop.
(ii) Engineering controls
This includes designs or modifications to plants, equipment, ventilation systems, and processes that reduce the source of exposure. For instance in a woodshop, the installation of machine guards on a tool and die stamping machine, setting up of local exhaust ventilation to remove toxic gases and wood dust before they reach the woodworker and the installation of noise buffers on noisy equipment can greatly reduce injury among woodworkers Burton (2010:84).
(iii) Administrative controls
These are controls that alter the way the work is done, including timing of work, policies and other rules, and work practices such as standards and operating procedures (including training, housekeeping, and equipment maintenance, and personal hygiene practices). In woodshops, ensuring good housekeeping such as proper packing of planks prevents hits from falling objects while regular cleaning of the floor removes projecting objects like nails that can pierce workers thus resulting in injury. The rotation of workers is also a housekeeping measure that can reduce workers’ exposure to hazardous environments for a longer period (Burton 2010:85).
(iv) Personal protective equipment
This involves equipment worn by individuals to reduce exposure such as contact with chemicals or exposure to noise. The provision and use of PPE must be based on a risk assessment. It is necessary that provision of PPE should consider the sizes and configurations that fit women as well as men (Burton 2010:85). In the context of the present study, employers are compelled by Section 1 (2) of Cameroon OHS Order No. 039/MTPS/IMT to provide PPEs to employees to reduce exposure to hazards. PPEs such as respirators (masks) to prevent breathing in of wood dust; gloves to protect hands from hazardous chemicals such as wood dust and paint, rough or sharp; boots to protect workers’ feet from sharp objects such as nails; and earplugs to protect the ear against loud noise.

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The psychosocial work environment

The psychosocial environment is related to interpersonal and social interactions and is defined by the set of psychological, cognitive, and behavioural phenomena of work environment that influence behaviours, feelings, and thoughts of workers, (Gyawali 2015:1). These are generally referred to as workplace stressors, which may cause emotional or mental stress to workers (Burton 2010:85). Examples of hazards in the psychosocial woodwork environment include:
Poor work organisation
Poor work organisation is described as the way job and work system are designed and managed that can cause stress (Leka et al 2003:5). The WHOHWFM proposes that poor work organisation occurs when there is excessive and unmanageable workload and pressure, decision latitude, reward and recognition does not match work done, there is little support from supervisors and colleagues, and little opportunity to exercise any choice or control (Burton 2010:85). The current study assessed the impact of workload and pressure on injury rate among woodworkers working in the small-scale woodshops in the Fako division of Cameroon
Organisational culture
Organisational culture is reflected in the attitude of staff, their shared beliefs about the organisation, their shared value system and common and approved ways of behaviour at work (Leka et al 2003:23). It also concerns how problems are recognised and solved. They include lack of policies and practice related to dignity or respect for all workers, harassment and bullying, discrimination on the basis of health status, lack of support for healthy lifestyles (Burton 2010:85). Employers, workers and trade union representatives need to engage in culture changes activities as an important aspect of improving the management of stress at work.
Inconsistent application and protection of basic worker rights
The WHOHWFM states that inconsistent application and violation of basic workers’ rights involves work practices that do not comply with legislated employment standards. This includes the non-issuance of standard legislated employment contracts and annual leaves to workers, the non-respect of maximum working hours per day, the non-respect of occupational health and safety rights etc. (Burton 2010:85). The present study investigated the impact of working hours on injury rates among wood workers in Fako division of Cameroon and has proposed ways of improving these practices.
Hazards control in the psychosocial work environment
The WHOHWFM proposes that hazards in a psychosocial work environment should be addressed in the same way as physical hazards, though they are assessed with different tools such as surveys or interviews rather than inspections. The hazards should be recognised, assessed and controlled through a hierarchy of controls that seek to eliminate the hazard if possible or modify it at the source. For instance, reallocation of work to reduce workload, removal or retrain managers/supervisors in communication and leadership skills; enforce zero tolerance for harassment, bullying or discrimination in the workplace and allowing flexibility to deal with work-life conflict situations can eliminate or modify workload (Burton 2010:85).

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Personal health resources in the workplace

The WHOHWFM suggests that the provisions of personal health resources in the workplace can support or encourage worker efforts to improve their personal health practices or lifestyle, as well as monitor and support their physical and mental health (Burton 2010:86). Such resources include health services, training, financial support, information, opportunities, and flexibility. Although work can get in the way of making healthy lifestyle choices, motivated and innovative employers do what they can to remove the barriers and support the personal health goals of their employees (Stoewen 2016:1189). Examples of personal health resource issues in woodshops may include lack of knowledge that may make it difficult for workers to adopt healthy lifestyles or remain healthy. Another issue is poor diet which may be caused by lack of access to good restaurants or meals at work, lack of time to take breaks for meals and lack of refrigeration to store preservable foods. Also, lack of accessible and/or affordable primary health care may cause illnesses among woodworkers to remain undiagnosed or untreated.

Enterprise community involvement

Community involvement refers to the ways in which a workplace goes above and beyond to involve itself within the community in which it operates, offering expertise and resources to support the social and physical wellbeing of the community (Burton 2010:87). Activities that positively influence the physical and mental health, safety, and well-being of workers and their families offer the greatest advantage. Examples in the current study include the offering of knowledge about OHS workers, healthcare services to workers and their families, spearheading a community project and volunteering in community initiatives such as .general cleaning campaigns.

Core principles of a healthy workplace

According to the WHOHWFM, the core/key principles for creating workplaces that are healthy for employees and prevent illnesses and diseases are leadership, commitment and engagement; ethics and values; and involvement of workers and their representatives (Burton 2010:62).
Leadership commitment and engagement
The WHOHWFM suggests that in order to create a healthy workplace, it is important to mobilise and secure commitment from major stakeholders or authorities concerned since a healthy workplace programme must be integrated into the business goals and values of the enterprise (Burton 2010:62). It equally advocates for the creation of a comprehensive policy that is signed by the enterprise’s highest authority and communicated to all workers and which clearly indicates that healthy workplace initiatives are part of the organisation’s business strategy. In the current study, the researcher assessed the elaborated OHS policy and compliance with the requirements of health and safety legislation in small-scale woodshops in Fako division of Cameroon.
Ethics and values
Every major religion and philosophy since the beginning of time has stressed the importance of a personal moral code to define interactions with others. One of the most basic universally accepted ethical principles is to “do no harm” to others and to ensure employees’ health and safety at the workplace (Burton 2010:5). Employers are expected to adhere to workers’ social and ethical codes as part of their role in the broader community and enforce occupational health codes and laws at the workplace. Employers also need to be responsible for workers, their families and to the public and avoid undue risks and human suffering. It is a fundamental human right for all workers to work in a safe and healthy work environment. The current study probed into the working condition and magnitude of work-related injuries of woodworkers in small-scale wood enterprises in the area of study.
Involving workers and their representatives
One of the most consistent findings of effectiveness research is that for successful programmes, the workers affected by the programme and their representatives must be involved in a meaningful way in every step of the process, from planning to implementation and evaluation (Burton 2010:62). Workers and their representatives must not simply be “consulted” or “informed” but must be actively involved in every step of the risk assessment and management process from planning to evaluation and their opinions and ideas considered. It is critical that workers have some collective means of expression due to the power imbalance that exists in most workplaces between labour and management. The research assessed the availability of qualified safety representatives and health and safety committees and their involvement from planning to evaluation of health and safety programmes.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 ORIENTATION TO THE STUDY
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND
1.3 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.4 AIM
1.5 OBJECTIVES
1.6 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.8 DEFINITIONS OF KEY CONCEPTS
1.9 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.10 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
1.11 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.12 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
1.13 OUTLINE OF THE STUDY
1.14 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 METHODS
2.3 LITERATURE REVIEW FINDINGS RELATING TO THE DESCRIPTION OF THE NATURE OF SMALL-SCALE AND INFORMAL WOODWORKING
ENTERPRISES IN CAMEROON
2.4 LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORKS ON OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY WITHIN LOCAL AND GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
2.5 THE CAMEROONIAN PERSPECTIVE
2.6 LITERATURE REVIEW FINDINGS RELATING TO THE DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF EMPLOYEES IN THE SMALL-SCALE AND INFORMAL WOOD ENTERPRISES
2.7 LITERATURE REVIEW FINDINGS ON THE KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE OF WOODWORKERS IN SMALL-SCALE AND INFORMAL ENTERPRISES
2.8 LITERATURE REVIEW FINDINGS ON OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY CONDITIONS IN SMALL-SCALE WOOD ENTERPRISES
2.9 LITERATURE REVIEW FINDINGS ON OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY INTERVENTIONS TO PREVENT OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS IN INFORMAL SECTORS
2.10 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK OF THE RESEARCH
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK SUPPORTING THE CURRENT STUDY
3.3 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.3 RESEARCH METHOD
4.4 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY OF THE DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENTS
4.5 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5 ANALYSIS, DESCRIPTION AND PRESENTATION OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 DATA MANAGEMENT AND RESPONSE RATE
5.3 RESULTS OF THE STUDY
5.4 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 DISCUSSION ON RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.3 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 7 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE STUDY
7.1 INTRODUCTION
7.2 SUMMARY
7.3 RECOMMENDATIONS DERIVED FROM THE CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
7.4 CONTRIBUTION OF THE STUDY
7.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
CHAPTER 8 GUIDELINES FOR PROMOTING OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES IN THE SMALL-SCALE AND INFORMAL WOODWORKING ENTERPRISES IN THE FAKO DIVISION OF CAMEROON
8.1 INTRODUCTION
8.2 PURPOSE OF THE GUIDELINES
8.3 SCOPE OF THE GUIDELINES
8.4 PROCESS OF DEVELOPING THE GUIDELINES
8.5 DESCRIPTION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLAN FOR THE GUIDELINES
8.6 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE EVALUATION OF GUIDELINES IN THE SMALL SCALE WOOD INDUSTRIES
8.7 IMPLICATIONS OF GUIDELINES FOR HEADS/OWNERS OF SMALL SCALE WOOD ENTERPRISES
8.8 IMPLICATIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT
8.9 GUIDELINES DISSEMINATION PLAN
8.10 CONCLUSION
LIST OF REFERENCES
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