Africa > East Africa > Uganda > People are desperate for work in Uganda

Uganda: People are desperate for work in Uganda


Getting to work this morning, I counted about six KCCA workers (women) sweeping roads and none of them was wearing a dust mask.

Two of the women, to protect themselves from the dust, had tied pieces of cloth around their noses but the rest swept away, unprotected.

Continued exposure to dust can trigger or result in respiratory-related diseases (asthma, bronchitis, emphysema) with characteristics such as pulmonary inflammation, chest tightness and airway obstruction, according to Such hazards and others are, however, ignored by both employers and employees.

\"People are desperate for work and they will take any job, even hazardous ones where personal protective equipment [PPE] is not provided,\" an official from the Occupational Health and Safety department of the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, who asked for anonymity because she is not a spokesperson said.

She added: \"Employers as well seem to be unaware that if they provide a safe place to work in, they save on medical costs should accidents occur, absenteeism, their reputations at the same time as they prevent accidents, and they have a happier and therefore additional productive labour force.\"

She revealed industries that record the majority accidents as being construction, manufacturing, hotel, horticulture and medicine. Workers in construction industry fall prey to collapsing buildings, not to mention the fact that they lack personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, steel-toed shoes and gloves that would protect them from injuries.

The same applies to manufacturing; people involved in steel and iron smelting and welding rarely use protective equipment such as ear plugs, gloves, goggles and coveralls. The hotel industry is prone to psychological hazards, particularly sexual harassment while horticulture and medical workers are exposed to bio-chemical hazards.

\"At the same time as working with fertilizers, workers in horticulture should be protected with masks, overalls, plastic aprons and heavy- business gloves, because exposure to chemicals over prolonged periods can harm their health. However, not a lot of of the workers are aware of this and so they go in unprotected and mix fertilizers.\"

As a result, they are put at risk of occupational skin conditions such as dermatitis and skin infections and cancers. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Protection, other people at risk of occupational skin diseases are those in health care, painting, construction, agriculture, food service, cosmetology, printing, and mechanics.

Protective equipment advised for individuals like those who face chemical hazards include hand protection such as gloves, body protection such as coveralls and aprons and respiratory protection such as respirators.

The department of Occupational Health and Safety advises that employers approach them to carry out risk assessment so that they can determine measures to reduce occupational hazards. One way hazards can be reduced is through the use of PPEs. But who needs what protective equipment?

Below is a guide.

Chief protection:

Construction workers, individuals that erect billboards, boda boda riders and users and other workers at risk of chief injury should be using chief protection.

Chief protection includes hard hats and helmets. Make sure you wear the right chief gear. For example, a hard hat meant for construction workers may not adequately protect a motorbike rider, because it is designed to deflect only falling objects.

Eye protection:

If you are working at a job where there is danger of flying objects, particles, liquids or any other objects that endanger the eyes, you need eye protection such as goggles or safety glasses.

Welders as well need eye protection to prevent eye damage that may result from light produced during welding.

Hearing protection:

Those at risk of hearing loss are individuals working in noisy places such as those in logging, factories, radio presenters and deejays. Hearing protection includes ear plugs and muffs.

Respiratory protection:

Steel and iron smelters, welders and agriculturalists are some of the people at risk of diseases resulting from the inhalation of metal ions, dust and chemicals from fertilizers and to offset this risk, they need respiratory protection such as disposable respirators (for dust), chemical cartridge respirators, gas masks and supplied air respirators.

Hand protection:

If you are exposed to biological or chemical hazards, say if you are in fields such as medicine and agriculture, you need gloves. The type of gloves you choose should be suitable to the task they are going to be used for. For instance, surgical gloves cannot be used by an agriculturalist mixing fertilizers.

Body protection:

The body can be protected by coveralls, aprons or full rain suits. If you handle dangerous chemicals, say you are an agriculturalist, you use liquid pesticides or work in a foundry, you need body protection.

Foot protection:

Factory workers, welders, need foot protection. Foot protection includes steel-toed work boots.

Interestingly, in the nineties these boots were all the rage in Kampala, thanks to hip hop music videos that glorified large, round-toed shoes and access via second-hand bales. As a result, an unprotected construction worker would clean up next a long day\'s work, slip on his steel-toed shoes and chief to the nightclub!

Fall protection:

Individuals that erect billboards, clean high-rise buildings\' windows and others working in places that can result in a fall, require fall protection such as harnesses and safety belts.

Related Articles
  • Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz Calls For New Strategy

    2017/10/19 Joseph Stiglitz has advised African nations to adopt coordinated strategy encompassing agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and service sectors to attain same success delivered by the old manufacturing export-led strategy. Prof. Stiglitz, an economist and professor at Columbia University, New York, gave the advice at the Babacar Ndiaye lecture series introduced by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) which debuted in Washington D.C.
  • Ecobank launches mVisa across 33 African Countries

    2017/10/19 Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa delivers instant, fasten cashless payment for goods and services by allowing customers to scan a QR code on a smartphone or enter a incomparable merchant identifying code into either a feature phone or smartphone Ecobank ( has partnered with Visa to launch Ecobank Scan+Pay with mVisa solutions to their consumers. The strategic tie-up signals interoperability on a cross border level – and potentially huge gains – as it affords consumers with the ability to use their mobile phone to due access the funds in their bank accounts to pay person-to-merchant (P2M) or person-to-person (P2P).
  • ‘Betting on Africa to Feed the World’

    2017/10/17 The president of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, will deliver the Norman Borlaug Lecture on Monday 16 October as part of the World Food Prize events taking place from October 16 to 20, 2017 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. The Norman Borlaug Lecture under the title: “Betting on Africa to Feed the World”, will be held on World Food Day, October 16, in conjunction with the annual World Food Prize celebration.
  • World Teacher’s day: Gov’t urged to improve teachers’ productivity

    2017/10/16 Cameroonian teachers nationwide have exhorted the Cameroonian government to empower teachers with the requisite tools to be able to deliver their best in the present fast-paced world. While commemorating the 23rd edition of world teacher’s day today, the teachers noted that the theme for this year’s celebration, “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers,” reaffirms that peace and security are needed for the development of any country.
  • Africa's Economic Future Depends on Its Farms

    2017/10/16 At the same time as the economies of Nigeria and South Africa recently rebounded, it wasn't oil or minerals that did the trick. It was agriculture. Faster and additional sustainable agricultural increase is crucial not only to the continent's economy, but as well to its ability to feed and employ its surging people. Agriculture still accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product and as much as two-thirds of employment in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, agricultural increase has the biggest impact on non-farm gain and reducing poverty.