Injury Risk Factors in a Small-Scale Gold Mining Community in Ghana’s Upper East Region

July 2015

An analysis of accidents, injuries, and potential risk factors in a Chanain small-scale gold mining community.

Occupational injury is one of many health concerns related to small-scale gold mining (ASGM), but few data exist on the subject, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2011 and 2013, we examined accidents, injuries, and potential risk factors in a Ghanaian ASGM community. In 2011, 173 participants were surveyed on occupational history and health, and 22 of these were surveyed again in 2013. Injury rates were estimated at 45.5 and 38.5 injuries per 100 person-years in 2011 and in 2013, respectively; these rates far surpass those of industrialized mines in the U.S. and South Africa. Demographic and job characteristics generally were not predictive of injury risk, though there was a significant positive association with injury risk for males and smokers. Legs and knees were the most common body parts injured, and falling was the most common cause of injury. The most common type of injuries were cuts or lacerations, burns and scalds, and contusions and abrasions. Only two miners had ever received any occupational safety training, and PPE use was low. Our results suggest that injuries should be a priority area for occupational health research in ASGM.