Knowledge, attitude and practices of grasshopper harvesters towards health and safety hazards encountered during night grasshopper harvesting using light traps in Paidha Town Council, Zombo District
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Introduction Large scale grasshopper harvesting using light bulbs has become common in Uganda. It provides seasonal food security and income potential especially to the local poor. Despite the lucrativeness of this business, less attention is being given especially to the aspects of health and safety of these night workers. This can predispose the vulnerable groups of workers especially women and children to various hazards. It is thus crucial to study the knowledge, attitude and practices of grasshopper harvesters towards health and safety during night grass hopper harvesting using light traps such that appropriate interventions to safe guard the health and safety of these workers basing on scientific evidence is developed. Objective: To assess knowledge, attitude and practices of grasshopper harvesters towards health and safety hazards encountered during night grasshopper harvesting using light traps in Paidha Town Council, Zombo District so as to provide baseline data which can be used by local leaders to develop appropriate interventions to prevent exposure of the community/grasshopper harvesters to hazards/safety risks. Method: A cross sectional study design which employed both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection were used. Quantitative data was collected from 158 respondents who practiced night grasshopper harvesting using light bulbs/traps. The data was collected using questionnaires, entered in EPIDATA and analyzed using STATA version 14. The univariate analysis results were presented inform of tables, graphs and percentages depending on their relevance and appropriateness. Qualitative data was collected using interview guides from 10 key informants who included: Town Clerk, OC station Paidha police station, 2 Town agents, Chairperson of grasshopper developer’s association, In charge child protection unit Paidha police station, Community Development officer, the health inspector, cultural and religious leaders. This data was then organized, sorted and coded into different themes emerging from responses to questions asked in line with the study objectives. Results were made by summarizing, directly quoting and triangulating them within quantitative findings/ analyzed manually using thematic analysis. Results: Health and safety are key during night harvesting of grasshoppers using light traps. Majority of the participants (88.6% ,106/158) stated that grasshopper harvesters do face health and safety hazards, (58.2%, 92/158) said that glare from the light bulb/traps was the most common hazard causing health issues like; eye itching, reddening, swelling, pain and temporary inability to see. Majority knew the various safety equipment needed to protect them from exposure to hazards for example (33.1%, 104/158) stated that overall was an essential PPE for a grasshopper harvester. Generally, there was positive attitude towards occupational health and safety with majority (72.8%,115/158) agreeing and strongly agreeing (25%,40/158) with the statements that the use of PPE protects people from the different hazards and that night grasshopper harvesting poses drastic health and safety challenges to the harvesters and disagreeing and strongly disagreeing with the statements that PPE is inconveniencing to wear. Majority, (96.8%, 152/158) had not got any form of training in relation to grasshopper harvesting and (80.4% 127/158) did not wear PPE while harvesting grasshoppers. However, literature used to discuss findings of this study were not similar in setting since little/no studies have so far been done on grasshopper harvesting topic. Conclusion: Majority of the participants were knowledgeable about occupational health and safety when harvesting grasshoppers Majority had a positive attitude towards use of PPEs during the grasshopper harvesting. Majority did not wear PPEs during the process of harvesting grasshoppers. However, this knowledge and positive attitude did not translate into safety practices. It is therefore important for the local authority to plan and budget for routine sensitization of grasshopper harvesters on various occupational hazards, their health effects and how they can be prevented for example by the use of appropriate PPEs, ideal siting of trapping points among others.