Demographic determinants of chemical safety information recall in workers and consumers in South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Chemical hazard communication is intended to alert users of the potential hazards of chemicals. Apart from the fact that hazard information should be understood, it is also important that it should be recalled. Recall of hazard communication is critical when the written form of the information is not available at the time it is required. A cross-sectional study investigating predictors of the recall of chemical safety information on labels and safety data sheets amongst 315 workers (industry, transport and agriculture sectors) and 87 consumers in two provinces of South Africa was conducted. The recall of participants was tested using two modules (module 2 which relates to the demographics, and module 3 which relates to the recall of the participants) from the Hazard Communication Comprehensibility Testing (CT) Tool developed by the Centre for Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Cape Town. Respondents were predominantly male (67.7%), the median age was 37 years (IQR: 30-46 years) and less than half of the participants completed high school (47.5%). The majority of participants were blue collar workers outside of industry (55.5%). The skull and crossbones symbol was the label element most recalled, both unprompted (79.6%) and prompted (94.8%), and the first aid and treatment measures the least frequently recalled (6.0%-29.9%). Multivariate analysis showed the predictors that were found to increase the recall of all the label elements were, industrial sector, transport sector, agriculture sector, gender, home language English and Afrikaans, reading English and Afrikaans, completing high school and non-industry white collar occupations. The predictors that were found to decrease recall were further education, not wearing glasses and non-industry blue collar occupations. This study found demographic factors to influence the recall of hazard information. Policy should ensure the implementation of procedures that promote the recall of hazard information to protect workers from hazardous exposures.

Includes bibliographical references