Agriculture and Natural Resource Based Industries Twelve millennia ago, humankind moved intothe Neolithic era and discovered that food, feedand fibre could be produced from the cultivationof plants. This discovery has led to the food and fibre supply that feeds and clothes more than 5 billion people today. Agriculture started in about 9750 BC atThailand near the Burmese border, where seeds of peas, beans, cucumbers and water chestnuts have been found.
This was 2,000 years before true agriculturewas discovered in the regions of the Caspian Sea and Central America. Agriculture is as old as Man, and it remains the largest employer of human labor. Now the agricultural system produces food, feed and fibre as well asconsequences for occupational health and, more generally, public health and the environment.
This general profile of the agriculturalindustry includes its evolution and structure,economic importance of different cropcommodities and characteristics of the industryand workforce. Agricultural workforce systems involvethree types of major activities: 1. manual operations 2. mechanization 3. draught power, provided specifically powerby those engaged in livestock rearing,
Agriculture brought with it several problems:- Weeds and pests (insects in the fields and mice and rats in the granaries) became a problem. - Early agriculture concerned itself with taking all that it could from the soil, and it would take 50 years to naturally replenish the soil. - In some places, the stripping of growth fromthe soil would turn the land to desert. To provide water to crops, farmers discovered irrigation about 7,000 years ago.
Solutions to these problems have led to new industries. industries Ways to control weeds, insects and rodents evolved into the pesticideindustry, and the need to replenish the industry soil has resulted in the fertilizer industry. industryThe need to provide water for irrigationhas spawned systems of reservoirs andnetworks of pipes, canals and ditches. ditches
FAMILY FARMS The family farm is an enterprise and a homestead on which both children and the elderly are likely to be present and produce food and other raw materials.Family farms range from small, subsistenceor part-time operations worked with draughtanimals and hand tools to very large, family- held corporations with numerous full-time employees.
A typical farm operation may combine the tasks of - livestock handling, - manure disposal, - grain storage, - heavy equipment operation, - pesticide application, - machinery maintenance, - construction and many other jobs.
Hazards The family farm is a hazardous work environment. It is one of few hazardous workplaces where multiple generations of family members may live, work and play. A farm can be the source of many and differing life-threatening hazards. The mostimportant indicator for safety and health isworkload per worker—both physical labor and decision-making or mental workload. workload
Many serious injuries happen toexperienced farmers, while doing tasks that they have been performing for years and even decades. Hazardous agricultural materials including pesticides, fertilizers, flammable liquids, solvents and other cleaners are responsible for acute and chronic illnesses in farm workers and family members.
Tractors and other mechanized equipment have permitted a dramatic increase in the land and livestock that can be worked by a single farmer, but mechanization has contributed to severe injuries in agriculture. Climate and topography (e.g., weather, water, slopes) also contribute to the hazards.
Machinery entanglement or tractorrollover, livestock, operating equipment on public roads, falling or being struck by falling objects, material handling,confined spaces and exposures to toxins,dust, moulds, gases, chemicals, vibrationand noise are among the principal risks for illness and injury on farms.
Prevention Classic agricultural safety and health programs emphasize improvedengineering design, education and good practices.Special attention on these farms needs to beplaced on age-appropriate tasks for children and older adults.
Young children should neither be allowed near operating farm equipment nor ever ride on tractors and other farm equipment.They should also be excluded from farmstead buildings that present hazards includingelectricity, confined spaces, chemical storage areas and operating equipment. equipment Warning labels should be maintained onequipment and chemicals so adults are informed of hazards and can thus better protect their families.
PLANTATIONS The term plantation is widely used todescribe large-scale units where industrialmethods are applied to certain agricultural enterprises. enterprises The main activity on a plantation is the cultivation of crops. This involves the following kinds of work: - soil preparation, - planting, - cultivation, weeding, - crop treatment, - harvesting, transportation and - storage of produce.
These operations entail the use of a variety of tools, machines and agricultural chemicals. Child labor could be employed on plantations. Children work with their parents as part of ateam for task-based compensation, or they are employed directly for special plantation jobs. They typically experience long workinghours, little safety and health protection and inadequate diet, rest and education.
AGRICULTURAL MACHINERYAgricultural machinery is designed torender the soil more suitable for crop growth, to sow seeds, to apply agricultural chemicals for improvedplant growth and control of pests anddiseases, and to harvest and store the mature crops.
There is an extremely wide variety of agricultural machines, but all areessentially a combination of gears, shafts, chains, belts, knives, shakers and so on, assembled to perform a certain task. These parts are usually suspended in a frame which may be either stationary or, as is more often the case, mobile anddesigned to perform the desired operation while moving across a field.
The major groups of agricultural machines: - soil tillage machines; - planting machines; - cultivating machines; - forage harvesting machines; - grain, fibre, vegetable, and fruit and nut harvesting machines; - agricultural chemical applicators; - transport and elevating machines; and - sorting and packaging machines.
• Agricultural workers constitute some three- quarters of the world’s working population• The National Safety Council of the United States estimates that agriculture was the most dangerous occupation, followed by mining and construction• Exact data on level of exposure and associated disease prevalence (or health effect) for agricultural workers in the developing world are limited.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO)• The Agricultural sector is one of the most hazardous to health worldwide• However this aspect has been neglected for a long time due to more focus on industries.
TYPES OF AGRICULTURAL HEALTH CHALLENGES. General Health Problems –Causes ranges from poor hygiene,inadequate water supply,malnutrition, bacterial and parasiticinfections, others include malaria,tuberculosis, hypertention anddiabetes.
Occupational Health Problems These are harzards arising due to theexposure of workers to the agents ofdisease asssociated with the environmentalcomponents of agriculture i.e thephysical, chemical, biological andmechanical.
PHYSICAL HARZARDS1) Dust: vegetable dusts, pollens and other organic dust can result into the following conditions:a) Farmers lungs due to excessive inhalation of dust containing fungi (mouldy hay).b) Allergic conjuctivitis from latex rubber.c) Dermatitis from wood dust.d) Upper Respiratory Tract Disease due to allergy from wood dust.
e) Byssinosis: This is a respiratory disease Byssinosis caused by prolonged inhalation of dust from textile fibers eg cotton, marked by coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and permanent lung damage. (Monday disease)f) Bagassosis: Seen in sugar cane farmers Bagassosis which occurs as a result of exposure to dust of fungi that grow on decaying sugar cane flax, after the sugar water has been pressed out.
2) Hot termal envorinment: excessive heat envorinment from the mashines and sun, resulting into heat fatigue, heat stroke and heat cramps. Skin cancer due to UV rays. 3) Cold thermal environment in winter 4) Noise and vibration (hand-arm and wholebody): this is from the machinery used egtractors especially in the mechanized form offarming. 5) Static posture – backache
MECHANICAL HARZARDS1) Cuts with machinery parts and instruments.2) Punctures and their complications (tetanus).3) Amputation4) All forms of accident ranging from -Falling off tractors -Falling from farm building -Overturning of tractors
CHEMICAL HARZARDS Agricultural workers are exposed tochemical hazards because chemicals areused extensively for control of insects,fungi, rodents e.t.c and these pesticides,herbicides and insecticides could beharmful to man especially when usedcarelessly. Sources include fertilizers,insecticides or pesticides.
INSECTICIDES• i) Organophosphates e.g Parathion, Malathion:- these are acetylcholinesterase inhibitor insecticides.• They cause acute poisoning which is due to the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase function, causing excessive salivation, function lacrimation, nervousness, tremors and spasms which can even lead to death. Chronic poisoning leads to peripheral neuropathy.
ii)Halogenated Hydrocarbons –Dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane (DDT),Dieldrin, Aldrine, Benzylhexachloride. The side effects mostly are chronic poisoining with peripheral neuropathy, however there could acute poisoning which is not common but produces anxiety, nervousness and respiratory embarrassment.iii)Carbamates are also acetylcholinesterase inhibitors but different from the organophostates.
HERBICIDESi) Paraquat and Diquat (Garamoxoneweedol): this is a free oxygen radicalreleasing and oxidizing agent used asherbicides. It is absorbed by inhalation, ingestionand skin absorption. Side effect is acute inflammatory lungparenchymal destruction.
BIOLOGICAL HAZARDSThese can be broadly classified into:-i)Zoonoses: These are diseases of animalsi)Zoonoses transmitted to man in handling animals and animal products. 1.BACTERIAL –Bovine TB –Brucellosis –Anthrax –Salmonellosis - Listeriosis- listeria monocytogenes - Erysipeloid
• Bovine Tuberculosis - spread not only by drinking milk of infected cattle but also by direct contact with diseased cattle. It’s caused by Mycobacterium bovis.• Brucellosis - spread by direct contact with infected animals or by drinking the raw milk of infected cattle and pigs. Aetiology: Brucella melitensis. - Acute form - weakness, chills, and high night fevers and often results in central nervous system disorders & painful joints. - Chronic form is characterised by chronic undulant fever, remittent fevers and disorders of the central nervous system.
• Anthrax - Spread by subcutaneous inoculation, inhalation and ingestion. – Symptoms - Papule first appears then vesicle surrounded by edema (malignant pustule); lymph node enlargement. • Psittacosis - Human infection is due to exposure to infected birds. Aetiology: Chlamydia psittaci. A contagious disease related to birds such as parrots, turkeys, ducks and chickens. Causes pneumonia.
Parasitic Infections:• Ankylostomiasis - caused by infestation of the small intestine by hookworms. Symptoms are anemia and tirednesss. Also hookworm disease in barefooted workers.• Leptospirosis – transmitted to the organism through skin. Ingestion of contaminated water and food. Human may become infected because of a wet occupation e.g working in rice fields, wet sugarcane fields. Affects the kidneys and liver.Causes kidney disease and destruction of red blood cells with potential anaemia.
Other biological hazards– Snake bites– Scorpion bites– Insect bites e.g simulium fly causing onchocerciasis– Skin disease due to poison oak, poison ivy etc.
HEALTH PREVENTION OF AGRICULTURAL WORKERS Primary level involves:• Health education about occupational hazards, raising awareness on safety in the work space and specific prevention including: - Safe work practices : 1. Use of personal protective devices - e.g ear plugs for noise, boots. Face mask and gloves especially for chemicals, apron and mask to reduce skin or respiratory absorption.
2. Adequate labeling of bottles & avoid the use of domestic bottles.3. Education on appropriate use of farm machinery.4. Immunization e.g tetanus toxoid against tetanus.5. Complete elimination of hazardous substances or substitution for less harzardous ones.6. Vaccination of farm animals7. The use of protective apparels such as face masks, hand gloves, while working with the insecticides, pesticides and herbicides.
- Secondary level– Early diagnosis and prompt treatment– Routine medical check up such as: lung function test & chest X-ray for those working with dust.– Audiometry.– Sputum test for tuberculosis.– Various forms of blood tests e.g blood agglutination test in brucellosis.
Treatment of specific illnesses - Atropine is given as an antidote for organophosphates and Carbamate poisoning. -Benzodiazepines for Halogenated Hydrocarbons• Farmer’s lung - Prednisolone• Anthrax – Ciprofloxacin• Brucellosis - Doxycycline 200 mg daily with Rifampicine 600-900 mg daily for 6 weeks.• Psittacosis – Clarithromycin.
• Bagassosis - Predisolone 30-60mg• Tetanus - management is supportive medical and nursing care. Benzodiazepines given to control spasm and sedate patients. IV Metronidazole, Antibiotics and Human Tetanus Immunoglobulin 10000IU given IM to neutralize the circulating toxins.• Leptospirosis - Oral doxycycline in mild case is given, IV Penicillin or Clarithromycin given in severe cases.
Tertiary level This involves limiting physical and social damage from disease by providing skilled clinical care and social support.• Rehabilitation for the people affected that can no longer work, so as to restore fuction and capability.• Provision of another job for the affected people.
RECOMMENDATIONS1. Commercial farms owned by Government, individuals or organizations should provide a well organised occupational health service for workers.2. Adequate training of agricultural workers on the appropriate use of farm machinery.3. Subsistent farmers should receive primary health care services from the nearest health centre.4. Explaining to workers the hazards of every operation they perform.
CONCLUSIONA healthy worker is a productive worker. Bearing this in mind and the importance of agriculture in thedevelopment of a nation, the provision ofexcellent occupational health services for the agricultural workers is a promising investment.
Health Hazards of Power plant workers 1) Hot thermal environment: Workers environment are exposed to high degree of temperature (and humidity) at boiler rooms, turbine rooms and other work stations closer to boilers. Health effects: effects• Heat exhaustion due to loss of body fluids due to excessive sweating. Signs and symptoms:- Person feels weakness , high body temperature, rapid pulse , fainting.
• Heat cramps: Due to loss of electrolytes cramps from the body. Signs and symptoms: painful cramps of calf muscles and abdominal muscles.• Heat stroke: Due to exposure to excessive stroke temperature. Signs and symptoms: high body temperature i.e. 38°C – 40°C, increased frequency of urination, giddiness and loss of consciousness.
Prevention and control:- Proper ventilation and air conditioning of work place, - use of loose fitting clothes, - provision of effervescent salt drinks to affected workers, - physical fitness of workers.
2) Exposure to NoiseExposure at boiler rooms, turbine rooms and other work stations. Type of noise: a) steady wide band noise from continuously operating motors and machines. b) Impact noise from steam let outs. Effects: - social deafness: person is deafness habituated for loud talking could not appreciate whisper, hearing impairment. Occupational hearing loss. Lack of concentration, annoyance, mental stress, hypertension and peptic ulcer.
Prevention and control: - Pre-placement and periodic medical examination of exposed workers.- Use of protective devices such as ear muffs and ear plugs. - Enclosing noise producing machines, reduction of noise by fitting mufflers and silencers to noisy machines. - Sound proofing of work stations.
3) Coal and other Dusts • Exposure at coal handling plant, tippling stations, boiler rooms.• Respirable dust: dust particles 0.3 to 5 µm in size. • Effects of dust inhalation: respiratory disorders like pneumoconiosis and progressive massive fibrosis of lungs.
Prevention and control • Pre-placement and periodic medical examination of exposed workers. • Proper ventilation of working place. • Good house keeping. keeping• Use of personal protective devices such as masks and respirators by exposed workers. • Dust suppression measures like wet mopping of the floor, use of aerosol sprays. sprays
Health effects of Radiation• Exposure at atomic power plants, near Nuclear Reactor, monitoring panels and other work stations. • Effects of radiation: high degree of radiation exposure due to accidental leakage of Nuclear Reactor causing radiation burns, acute radiation syndrome, skin cancer, blood and bones cancer, still births, intrauterine foetal death, abortions, shortening of life span.
Prevention and Control • Pre-placement and periodic medical checkup of workers. • Shielding the source of radiation: the source of X-rays, gamma rays and particulate radiation should be enclosed in radio protective material such as lead and concrete of suitable thickness.• Distance from the source of radiation : the controls should be located as far as possible or remotely operated.
Electromagnetic Field in the Power Plant • E.M.F. generates magnetic flux density at work place and near over head high tension power transmission lines, electrical sub stations and power generation plants. • Safety limits: maximum field strength should not exceed 10 Kv /M.• Recommended continuous exposure limit: 5 gauss with a maximum of 50 gauss for 2 hours.
Effects on Human Health• Sleep disturbances.• Headache.• Increased susceptibility to respiratory infections.• Increased risk of blood and brain cancer.
Prevention and Control• Insulation and shielding of machines.• Barrier operation of machines.• Continuous monitoring of E.M.F. level at work place.• Periodic medical checkup of exposed workers.
Hazards due to social factors • Workers are affected by industrial psychoses and neuroses. • Tensions and worries arising out of social environments in the industry i.e. poor intra- and inter-personal relations, poor housing conditions, separation from family, job satisfaction and sickness absenteeism. • Sickness absenteeism is related to low productivity and low workers morale.• Level of absenteeism in the country: to the tune of 8 – 10 days / head /year.
Prevention & Control• Periodic Medical Examination of Workers.• Provision of good housing facility & Recreational activities.• Good intra- & inter-personal relations in the factory.• Health Education & Addiction control programs in the Factory.