A study of the workplace environment with respect to aspects of safety and occupational health in a sugar processing plant: the case for Mumias sugar company, Kenya
A study was undertaken at Mumias Sugar Company to establish the status of the workplace environment with respect to some aspects of Safety and Occupational health in a Sugar Processing Plant between December, 1996 and March, 1997. Studies were conducted on the environmental aspect of Hot working environments in the factory and the Dust manifestation from bagasse handling. Measurements of the environmental components were done to establish the thermal balance associated with the working environment in the Process house and Boiler house. Dust samples were taken to establish the dust concentration associated with the various workplaces. In the analysis, the least significant difference criterion was used to compare the observed means of established parameters. A questionnaire survey was conducted to establish the psychological consequences of the working environment on the exposed personnel and to facilitate a quantitative access to the people's subjective judgment of their working environment. The thermal loads in the Process house were found to be significantly different, at 5% level of significance, attributed to the poor ventilation and uncontrolled sources of thermal stress, thus implying higher thermal stress among the exposed personnel than in the boiler house where the thermal loads were not significantly different. Dust concentrations were not significantly different, but the dust level III the bagasse store exceeded the recommended exposure limit. The results of the study indicated a need for better ventilation, provision of thermal clothing, or limiting exposure to these uncontrolled thermal stress conditions through the introduction of new working schedules for hot working environment, while special storage designs, alternative delivery means, or the application of moisture during the disposal of bagasse, to prevent the bagassilo from becoming airborne, were found necessary. The results of the research will form the basis of a qualitative and quantitative assessment of some of the risks involved in a sugar processing industry which is a major requirement for the planning and effecting a health and safety programme in any industry.