Research Article
General Science
Public Health

Knowledge and practices regarding safety information among textile workers in Adwa town, Ethiopia

Desalegn Tetemke1, Kassahun Alemu2, Yifokire Tefera2, Hardeep Rai Sharma3, Walelegn Worku2


The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the workplace a priority setting for health promotion in the 21st century.


The aim of this study was to assess the knowledge and practices regarding safety information among textile workers in Adwa town of Ethiopia.


Institutional based cross sectional study was conducted from August−September, 2010 using quantitative methods. Five hundred sixty workers were randomly selected by using simple random sampling and data was collected by using pretested and self-structured questionnaire and observational checklists. Logistic regression analysis was carried out to found the effect of the independent variables on the dependent variables.


About 69% of respondents had knowledge on safety information and 54% were found to use personal protective equipments (PPE). Gender (aOR: 4.81, 95%CI: 2.65, 8.77), having safety training (aOR: 7.14, 95%CI: 4.69, 10.88) and work regulation (aOR:2.65, 95%CI: 1.55, 4.54) were factors associated with knowledge level of the participants. Safety training, work regulation and knowledge to safety information were factors to increase safe practices of using personnel protective equipments (PPE) (aOR: 3.12, 95%CI: 1.81, 5.39), (aOR: 3.72, 95%CI: 2.03, 6.81) and (aOR: 8.18, 95%CI: 4.35, 15.37), respectively.


Generally more than two-third of respondents knew about safety information however, practice towards safety information was inadequate. Safety training was the common factor to increase knowledge and practicing habits which needs to be encouraged. Regular supervision is also recommended to ensure and promote work place safety.
KeywordsEthiopia, Knowledge, Practices, Safety information, Textile workers.

Author and Article information

Author info
1. Department of Public Health, College of Health Science, Aksum University, Ethiopia
2. Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Post O. Box. No. 196, Ethiopia
3. Institute of Environmental Studies, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, PIN 136119, Haryana, India

RecievedOct 6 2013  AcceptedJan 29 2014  PublishedFeb 12 2014

CitationTetemke D, Alemu K, Tefera Y, Sharma HR, Worku W (2014) Knowledge and practices regarding safety information among textile workers in Adwa town, Ethiopia. Science Postprint 1(1): e00015. doi:10.14340/spp.2014.01A0004

Copyright©2014 The Authors. Science Postprint published by General Healthcare Inc.. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.1 Japan (CC BY-NC-ND 2.1 JP) License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

FundingNo funding of any kind was provided for this work.

Competing interestsThe authors declare that they have no relevant competing interests.

Ethics StatementThe authors respect the confidentiality and anonymity of the study participants. We further declare that all study subjects participated in our study voluntarily.

Corresponding authorDr. Hardeep Rai Sharma
AddressInstitute of Environmental Studies, Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, PIN 136119, Haryana, India
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The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the workplace a priority setting for health promotion in the 21st century. Workplace can have a positive impact on the health and well-being of workers, their families, communities and society at large 1. Safe work and workplace is necessary for increased production and higher productivity and hence promotion and protection of safe work and workplace is the complementary aspect of industrial development 2. Ethiopia also adopted this idea in its labour code where every organization should have laws and regulations on occupational safety, health and working environment 3. However, industrial occupations may create unsafe work and work environment because of the inherent sources of hazards present in their materials 4.
In Sub-Saharan African countries about 54 000 fatal occupational accidents happen annually and approximately 42 million work-related accidents took place that results at least 3 days absence from work. The fatality rate in Sub-Saharan African countries is 21/100000 workers and the accident rate per 100000 workers is 16000 5. In Ethiopia, the fatal occupational accidents rate is 5596/yr with a fatality rate of 21.5/100000 workers and an accident rate of 16426/100000 workers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that the total costs of such accidents and ill health amount to approximately 4 percent of the world’s gross domestic products (GDPs) 6. Limited financial resources and lack of adequate data has hampered the efforts to combat the problem of industrial and occupational accidents in developing countries 7. In such cases, prevention emerges as the most cost effective tool to reduce accident rates causing disabilities and deaths in the workplace. Accordingly, if people are not safety conscious, then no amount of gadgetry, fail safe devices and back up alarms can ensure their safety 8. Sometimes due to high illiteracy among workers, the safety issue is not even taken seriously by the workers themselves 9.
In recent years, occupational health and safety of the workers has improved and is relatively satisfactory in developed countries, whereas in developing countries, occupational health receives little attention and comes at low level in the list of national priorities 10. This is also true for Ethiopia, an underdeveloped country of Sub-Saharan Africa and therefore, the present study was designed to assess the knowledge and practices of textile workers regarding safety information and to find the factors responsible for it.

Materials and Methods

An institutional based cross sectional study design with quantitative methods was used. The study was conducted among the textile industry workers in Adwa town of Ethiopia from August − September, 2010. The textile industry is situated 7 km from the center of Adwa town on the main road to Axum and is 1006 km away from National capital, Addis Ababa and 233 km away from Mekele, the regional capital of Tigray. The industry uses long and short linen fibers and cotton yarn as a raw material and produce woven products and knitted fabrics likes shirts, trousers, gowns, military items, bed sheets, pillows, T-shirts, and inner wears. All 5118 production and 615 non-production workers were the source population and the required sample size was drawn from them. The reason for including non-production workers in the study was because their knowledge further affects the knowledge and practices of the production workers for instance in providing some protective measures, and training. Sample size was determined using a single proportion formula 11 adopting 69.5% knowledge of workers on safety information 12 and by adding 10% non response rate, thus making the total sample size to 560. To select the study subject the total number of workers in the factory were first categorized in to administrative and production workers and further the production workers were grouped in to different sections. The study subjects were drawn according to their number proportions using simple random sampling technique. Pretested and self−structured questionnaire and observational checklist were used to collect the required information. The questionnaire was first prepared in English and then translated to Tigrigna (native language of study participants) and again back to English to ensure its consistency. Data was collected by eight trained environmental health professionals having undergraduate degree. To ensure data quality, training was provided to both data collectors and supervisor for two days before data collection. The purpose of the study was clearly explained to the study subjects and their verbal consent was obtained. Supervisor and principal investigator closely followed the data collection process. Confidentiality of the data was strictly maintained throughout the study period. The data were entered, cleaned, edited and analyzed using Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16. Errors identified during data entry were corrected after revision of the original completed questionnaire. The mean, standard deviation (±S.D), odds ratio (OR) and proportion of the variables were calculated and logistic regression analysis was performed to identify factors associated with knowledge of safety information and workers safe practices. The mean score for knowledge of safety information was calculated by adding all the questions responded correctly by the worker and divided by the total questions. The questions focused on the knowledge about safety information, PPE use, varieties of tasks performed, accident prevention, and work regulation.


Socio-demographic characteristics

Out of selected 560 workers, 520 respondents (45.8% males and 54.2% females) agreed to participate in the study, making the response rate of 92.9%. The minimum and maximum age of workers was 16 and 54 yrs, respectively with mean age of 24.45 ± 5.01 (S.D). Most of the study participants (44.4%) had secondary, followed by tertiary (37.9%) school education, with a work experience of < 1 yr (22.5%), 1−5 yrs (47.5%) and >5yrs (30%). All workers were from same ethnicity i.e. Tigrie. The results showed the predominance of female workers in the study area. About 73.3% workers were employed permanently (with 95.8% male workers) and the remaining was temporary (Table 1).

Table 1 Socio-demographic characteristic of the respondents (n = 520)

Knowledge regarding occupational health and safety information

From the total study participants about 78.7% respondents heard about occupational health and safety information, 28.5% had knowledge about Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs), and 66.2% and 81.7%, respectively knew about safety signs and fire extinguisher. Material Safety Data Sheet is a summary of the health hazards about the material and associated recommended safe work practices. The industry has its own work regulation which was only found in the office however, safety rules and signs were posted in all studied five sections. The calculated mean score of respondents out of eight knowledge questions was 5.04. About 68.7% respondents scored >5 and were considered as knowledgeable to safety information (Table 2).

Table 2 Knowledge level of respondents on safety information (n = 520)

Among the total number of respondents who had knowledge of safety information 39%, 11%, 4%, acquired it from work place trainings, different reading materials and through media (TV and radio), respectively while 46% workers acquired from their own work experience.

Safety practices

From the total participants, 54.2% workers used PPE. Among the PPE users, respirator accounts the highest (61%) followed by apron (59%), ear muffs (49%) and the least used were safety boots (21%). Among the PPE users about 84% used them always and the rest 16% used sometimes. The various reasons regarding PPE use were awareness/ knowledge, observing others and compulsion in the industry as responded by 73%, 18% and 9% participants, respectively. PPE use is mandatory in the industry but no vigil was noticed regarding its enforcement however, 61.5% workers responded that workers activities, production area, safety and wellbeing were supervised in the last 12 months by different concerned authorities. Workers believed that use of PPE protects them from accidents and lower the extent of workplace injury. Rationale for not using PPE by workers were their unavailability, unaware about PPE importance, decrease in work performance and feeling uncomfortable while use in about 39%, 51%, 5% and 5.5% cases, respectively. From the total study subjects 56.3% got internal training on safety information either from safety officer or experienced worker of the industry in the last 12 months while remaining were without training.

Observational findings

Work place environment inspection was made during data collection regarding the availability of safety information such as safety signs, availability of fire extinguishers, and PPE use by the workers that could support and provide additional information. Based upon the observations, fire extinguishers were kept in each section including offices and were familiar by most of the workers however, none of the participants knew about their use. Emergency exit signs were posted in all units and sections of the industry except garment section as it was located backside of the main building, mostly locked and unused for quite long period of time. Other safety signs of danger and warnings were present in spinning, weaving and processing section. In each section working area was free from obstacles, and any kind of stored or dumped materials however, the floors were wet and not clean which may result into trip and slip hazards. There was a proper storage room in the industry to store and keep the raw, processed and unwanted materials. Except the garment section, dust particles were observed suspended in indoor air, attached to the industry walls, and even found to accumulate on workers clothes and hair. The most prevalent problem in all sections was insufficient ventilation with no exhaust fans, which may causes disturbances like lack of air, dusty air and draught. Noise hazard was observed highest in spinning section where it was difficult to communicate with out speaking loudly, relatively low in weaving and processing sections as one can communicate with normal conversation.

Associated factors for knowledge level and safe practices of workers

Variables such as gender, work experience, safety training, work regulation and list of workers’ right and obligation towards work had significant association with respondent’s knowledge. Male workers were 4 times more knowledgeable than females on safety information (aOR: 4.81, 95%CI: 2.65, 8.77). However age, educational level, job category, employment pattern, working section and supervision didn’t show statistical significance with workers knowledge regarding safety information. (Table 3).

Table 3 Logistic regression analyses of the relative effect of some variables on knowledge leve

*** Significant at p value <0.001
** Significant at p value <0.01
* Significant at p value <0.05

Similarly, variables such as gender, education level, employment pattern, working section, having safety training, work regulation and knowledge regarding safety information had significant association with PPE use. Respondents who had safety training were >3 times likely to use PPE compared to those who had no training (aOR: 3.12, 95%CI: 1.81, 5.39) and respondents who had knowledge about health and safety information were >8 times likely to use PPE than from those who had no knowledge (aOR: 8.18, 95%CI: 4.35, 15.37) (Table 4).

Table 4 Logistic regression analyses of the relative effect of socio-demographic variables on PPE use

*** Significant at p value <0.001
** Significant at p value <0.01
* Significant at p value <0.05


The mean score of respondents to the knowledge questions was 5.04. In this study the overall knowledge of respondents to safety information was 68.7% which is consistent with the study conducted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where 69.5% respondents knew about different kinds of occupational health and safety information 12. Highest percentage i.e. 81.7% of workers had knowledge about fire extinguishers as safety device against fire protection which might be due to their presence in each section as also confirmed by observational check list. Only 28.5 % of the workers knew about MSDSs which was the lowest figure as compared with the other knowledge questions.
This study revealed that health and safety training had significant association with knowledge level of respondents (aOR: 7.80, 95%CI: 4.46, 13.63) which is important in creating safety climate in the industry 12. Further, workplace training, a first aid instruction showed linkage to reduced worker injury rates 13, increased worker knowledge of job hazards, effective in practicing safe work and other positive actions in a wide array of worksites 14. Training and supervision during hazardous tasks has increased safety knowledge and practice 15 however, in present study supervision had no significant association to knowledge level of workers. The possible reason might be that supervision mostly confined to workers activity and production but not on the work style as confirmed by the majority of workers. In addition to training, presence and display of work regulations (aOR: 2.65, 95%CI: 1.55, 4.54) and workers’ rights at work place (aOR: 3.83, 95%CI: 2.31, 6.37) had significant association with whom workers knowledge level. The study demonstrated that 72.3% of respondents had knowledge about PPE and among who knows, only 54.2% of them were practicing their use. The values regarding PPE knowledge were slight lower than 75.2% found in Indian garment industry workers 16. The main reasons for not using PPE in the present study were the carelessness and discomfort during use as reported by the workers. Among respondents who used PPE, respirator accounts the highest (61.0%) followed by apron (59.0%). The main reasons mentioned by the non-users regarding not use of PPE were either the absence or lack of awareness about PPE use benefits in 39.08% and 50.08% cases, respectively as also observed in other studies 17.
In this study gender had significant association with PPE use as male workers tend to use two times more PPE than female workers (aOR: 2.22, 95%CI: 1.05, 4.73) as also observed in Ethiopian and Canadian researches12, 18 where girls reported to relative higher odds for the non-PPE use. Workers educational status was non-significantly associated with workers knowledge about safety but found to be significantly associated with PPE use. Lack of adherence to PPE use might be due to individual factors like educational level and work experience as found in the study carried out in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where they were statistically significant with PPE usage 12. In this study, employment pattern along with respondents working section and work regulation information showed significant association with safe practices. Similar with knowledge level of respondents safety training also had significant association with personal protective equipment usage (aOR: 3.12, 95%CI: 1.81, 5.39). It is similar from a study conducted in Hong Kong 15 that being informed of safety precautions by health and safety training and being supplied with safety information by supervisor were the significant factor leading to safe practice. In this study knowledge to safety information had significant association with personal protective equipment usage (aOR: 8.18, 95%CI: 4.35, 15.37). A huge gap could be observed between the knowledge and usage of personal protective equipments mainly due to the non availability of safety device and safety device not provided by the manufacture 17. Generally more than two third of respondents had knowledge about safety information and found to practicing work place safety, particularly PPE use though inadequate. Male workers and workers with ≥ 1 yrs of experience were found to have more knowledge. Safety training was the common determinant factor to increase knowledge level as well as safe practices among workers. Being primary and above educational status and having knowledge to safety information were found to be more PPE users. Industry employers should create more awareness reading safe work and PPE use in their industry. Availability of PPE and enforcement of their use along with display of proper safety signs and information and appropriate places can be effective to increase workers knowledge and create safer and better work place environment.


Financial support from University of Gondar is acknowledged gratefully. We would like to forward our deepest gratitude to the textile industry managers, study participants and data collectors for their cooperation during study and data collection.

Author Contributions

Desalegn Tetemke supervised the data collection, analyzed the data and write this paper.
Kassahun Alemu, Yifokire Tefera and Walelegn Worku contribute in designing and in statistical interpretation.
Hardeep Rai Sharma contribute in literature review, editing and paper writing.


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