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Background: Municipal solid waste management, particularly in developing countries, involve manual or semi-automated handling of the waste materials. This exposes the waste collectors to physical, biological and chemical hazards  that could easily lead to injuries and diseases where adequate safety precautions and practices are not put in place. Solid waste collection and disposal in Port Harcourt metropolis is undertaken by the Rivers State Waste Management Authority with the use of contractors that employ predominantly manual procedures in their work that exposes the staff to hazards. This study was undertaken to identify the occupational hazards and safety practices among refuse collectors in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Methodology: A descriptive cross sectional study design was employed for this study using a sample of 310 refuse collectors who were selected by a multistage sampling procedure. An interviewer-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from the respondents. Additionally, a walk-through was conducted at 10 different sites of refuse collection. The data collected was analysed using Epi-info version 7.
Results: The findings from this study revealed that refuse collectors are exposed to physical, chemical & biological, psychosocial and ergonomics hazards in proportions of 72.08%, 94.9%, 39.32% and 48.65% respectively. On safety practices, 24.0% had good safety practices while a majority of 75.93% had bad safety practices. Some of the safety measures identified from the study included the provision of clean water and soap, maintenance of equipment, job rotation and traffic control amongst others.
Conclusion: This study revealed that refuse collectors in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area are at risk of exposure to many occupational hazards which is a big problem because the workers generally lack any form of safety protection against these hazards. Majority of them have not engaged in any safety training. It is necessary that adequate personal protective equipment is provided for them to reduce their exposure to these hazards and quality safety training also provided for them to improve their knowledge of the dangers they are exposed to and teach them ways to keep themselves protected.