The present study was carried out in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Ex-post facto and exploratory research design was used to carry out the research. Data were collected through an interview schedule from 1080 families (540 female+540 male) covering 54 villages from 18 districts to understand the extent and nature of hazards and preventive measures followed in livestock rearing. The study revealed significant differences between male and female respondents due to the effect of physical, biological, chemical and psychological hazards. Physical hazards ranked first followed by biological, psychological and chemical hazards. A negative and significant relationship was found for extension agency contact with health hazards. The study revealed insignificant differences (P>0.01) between male and female workers with respect to adopting the safety and preventive measures for 22 out of 24 activities except for avoiding stay with the animals under the same roof and use of latrines for urination and defecation. Age and gender of animal workers had a significant impact on the exposure of various occupational health hazards in livestock rearing. Although both male and female workers were found to be at risk of hazards in livestock farming, females reported greater risk and hazards. Specific interventions to prevent animal-associated hazards should target the women farmers first with intense educational efforts.
Occupational hazards constitute a major source of morbidity and mortality among all workers (Driscoll et al., 2005). Animal workers are exposed to numerous hazardous situations in their daily practice and have been reported and documented (Hafer et al., 1996; Mostafa and Batami E, 2003; Adedeji et al., 2011; Olowogbon, 2011). Close association between the workers and the animal, which often have unpredictable behaviour, puts the livestock workers at risk. The proximity to animals renders them susceptible to many harmful health hazards and a variety of strenuous and exhaustive work environment. Majority of the livestock related activities are full of drudgery and have not been supported by the mechanical tools and appliances. These activities involve a lot of physical, chemical, biological and psychological strains, which in long run create health problems particularly on the middle aged group workers. The tools, implements and techniques are either defective in design or do not suit to workers and invariably lead to various health hazards like injury, fatigue, exhaustion, etc. The health of workers on a farm is subjected to risk due to excessive stress, zoonotic diseases, allergies, musculoskeletal strain, exposure to weather extremes, contact with earth, flora, fauna, biological agents (skin diseases) from animals. The high rate of work, awkward work posture and design deficiencies of the hand tools result in cumulative musculo-skeletal strain and injuries in farm activities (Vyas, 2014). A review of studies on health impact assessment of livestock production shows a number of potential human health hazards associated with keeping livestock, as perceived by livestock producers (farmers), consumers, and policy makers (Atukunda,1999; Maxwell and Zziwa;1992; Ishagi et al., 2003). Livestock were the primary source of injury with cattle, swine and sheep constituting 18% of all agricultural injuries and accounting for the highest rate of lost workdays (NIOSH, 1993). This is also true that women and men do not experience the same health problems in the same proportions. They specially adopt long static postures for some of the activities which increase high physiological cost and low productivity (Tripathi, 2010; Tripathi and Pandey 2011; Tripathi et al., 2013; Tripathi et al., 2015). An UN study of 31 countries shows that women work 10 to 30 per cent more hours than men. Data from the African and Asian regions indicate that on average, women work at least 12 hours longer each week than men (United Nations, 1991). According to a study 14.3% of the respondents have experienced occupational related diseases/sickness at one time or the other (Awosile et al., 2013). Skin (30.4%) and respiratory diseases (19.6%) were the most common occupational diseases reported. Rabies, tuberculosis, avian influenza and brucellosis were the common zoonotic diseases associated with works while diseases/infections and death was the common possible implications of zoonoses perceived by the workers.
Although livestock-keeping has been recognized as a source for livelihood security, but there is lack of sufficient information for understanding and assessing the relative risks and hazards to health associated with it. In view of lack of systematic studies and information available on self reported occupational health hazards and preventive measures followed by male and female workers in livestock rearing in rural villages of India, the present study aims at revealing many incidents/hazards that have direct concern with their safety measures following in this area. The information generated, thus, would guide the policy makers, administrators and other agencies to understand the actual existing scenario of hazards in rural livestock husbandry.
Materials and Methods
The present study was carried out purposively in the state of Uttar Pradesh due to the familiarity of the researcher with the local language, customs and culture that helped in building up rapport with the respondents and also largest milk producing state that holds a share of more than 17% in the total milk production with a population of 56 million livestock. Ex-post facto and exploratory research design was used to understand the self reported occupational health hazards and preventive measures followed by male and female workers in livestock rearing. The state of Uttar Pradesh has 2, 94,416 sq. kms geographical area (about 8.90 % of India’s total geographical area) occupying the distinction of fourth largest state of India. It is surrounded by Bihar in the East, Madhya Pradesh in the South, Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana in the West and Uttarakhand in the North and Nepal touch the northern borders of Uttar Pradesh. Its area lies between latitude 240 and 310 and longitude 770 and 840 east.
The state of UP is divided into 18 divisions namely; Agra, Aligarh, Allahabad, Azamgarh, Bareilly, Basti, Chitrakoot, Gonda, Faizabad, Gorakhpur, Jhansi, Kanpur, Lucknow, Meerut, Mirzapur, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Varanasi. Out of the 18 divisions, 09 divisions (50%) were selected purposively for data collection to represent the state. Out of 09, two districts from each division (a total of 18 districts) and three blocks from each district, (total 54 blocks) and one village from each of the selected block. Thus a total of 54 villages were selected randomly. Twenty livestock owning families (10 males and 10 females) were selected randomly from each of the selected villages provided they have at least two dairy animals. Thus 1080 families (540 female workers and 540 male workers) were finally interviewed for data collection. The quantitative and qualitative data were collected personally and with the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendras situated in each district through structured and pretested interview schedule supplemented with observation and interaction dialogues.
Data on prevalence of self reported occupational health hazards in categories of physical, biological, chemical and psychological among male and female workers was collected by asking each respondent about the type of hazard, injury, accident he/she faced during the last five years. The responses were taken on three point continuum i.e. ‘Frequent’, ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Never’ with respective scores of 3, 2 and 1. The preventive/safety measures followed by them against work related hazards was assessed through a set of twenty four questions wherein respondents were asked to rate their answers indicating ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Frequency and percentage were calculated separately for male and female workers against each of the self reported hazards as well as preventive measures. The data so collected were compiled, tabulated analysed using suitable statistical methods of coded data in terms of frequency, percentages, mean, ranking Chi square and correlation etc using MS excel and SPSS.
Results and Discussion
Prevalence of Self Reported Occupational Health Hazards
1. Physical Hazards (Internal/External)
Table 1 indicates a list of fifteen hazards reported by respondents in varied frequency. The analysis showed significant differences in terms of physical hazards encountered by the male and female workers. The most common physical hazards (pooled data) were; sudden fall during work (43.06%), animal kick and scratches (42.96%), headache, shoulder and elbow pain (54.91%), swollen hand (57.69%), sunstroke (46.39%), body fatigue (61.48%), neck pain (56.48%), slip disc and back pain (58.06%). Animal bites, insecticide illness, eye injury, hearing loss, crushing attack by animal were the hazards reported by 30-40% of the respondents irrespective of the gender. Headache, shoulder pain, elbow pain (30.65%), swollen hand (11.39%), neck pain (23.24%), slip disc and back pain (21.94%) were frequently occurring hazards in livestock rearing among the respondents.
Table 1: Physical hazards reported by male and female workers in livestock rearing
|Physical Hazards/ Injury||Extent of Hazard||Male
|Chi square test|
|Sudden fall during work||Never||320||59.26||256||47.41||576||53.33||21.582**|
|Headache, shoulder, elbow pain||Never||71||13.15||85||15.74||156||14.44||26.264**|
|Slip disc-back pain||Never||89||16.48||127||23.52||216||20.00||49.947**|
**significant at 1%,* Significant at 5% level of significance, NS- Non significant
2. Biological Hazards
Respondents were asked to report any kind of biological hazards/disease out of the list of seven hazards, if they have encountered/suffered earlier while performing livestock related activities separately by male and female workers. Table 2 shows significant differences between the male and female workers with regard to exposure to biological hazards such as ringworm infection, fever, amoebiasis, conjunctivitis and infestation with internal and external parasites. No significant differences, however, were observed for the hazards like tuberculosis and biting by rabid dog. Thirty three male and 28 among female respondents reported biting by rabid dog. Similarly, 183 respondents (93 males and 90 females) reported for tuberculosis. Respondents were also asked about a few zoonotic diseases such as brucellosis, leptospirosis (data not shown), but majority were unaware of these diseases. However, on presentation of symptoms, it was perceived that they might have been infected with brucellosis and occasionally leptospirosis.
Table 2: Biological hazards reported by male and female workers in livestock rearing
|Type of Biological Hazards||Extent of Hazard||Male
|Chi square test|
|Ringworm infection||Not Suffered||92||17.04||213||39.44||305||28.24||135.33**|
|Biting by rabid dog||Not Suffered||507||93.89||512||94.81||1019||94.35||0.69NS|
|Infestation with internal and external parasites||Not Suffered||192||35.56||300||55.56||492||45.56||64.98**|
**significant at 1%level of significance, NS- Non significant
3. Chemical Hazards
Respondents were asked to report any kind of chemical hazard, if they have suffered/undergone due to livestock rearing from a list of seven kinds of chemical hazards. Chi square analysis showed significant differences with regard to chemical hazards encountered by the male and female workers due to livestock rearing (Table 3).The most common chemical hazards were; allergies (64.44%), eye irritation (75.56%), eczema (60.56%), headache (54.19%), nausea and vomiting (69.26%). Data show that greater number of male workers reported allergies, eye irritation, headache, nausea and vomiting compared to female workers. About 38% of the workers reported respiratory problems and 15.46% reported pesticides intoxication. Respiratory irritations and to a lesser extent gastrointestinal irritation, conjunctivitis and dermatitis account for the clinical conditions associated with chemical exposures (Awosile et al., 2013).
Table 3: Chemical hazards reported by male and female workers in livestock rearing
|Chemical Hazards||Extent of Hazard||Male
|Chi square test|
|Nausea and Vomiting||Never||84||15.56||139||25.74||223||20.65||21.26**|
**significant at 1%level of significance, NS- Non significant
4. Psychological Hazards
Psychological hazards affect the human health. Table 4 shows significant differences in the suffering due to eleven psychological hazards between the male and female workers in livestock rearing. The most common psychological hazards reported by animal workers were; aggression (61.94%), boredom (67.59%), physical tiredness (55.46%), depression (55.56%), psychological fatigue (48.33%), irritability (45.28%), forgetfulness (53.43%), low concentration (51.57%) and low energy (52.41%). Data further shows that greater number of male respondents reported for psychological hazards viz., aggression, boredom , hostility (27.78%), low concentration (58.15%) and low energy (55%) as compared to female workers whereas greater number of female workers, however, reported hazards like physical tiredness, depression, lack of sleep, irritability and forgetfulness.
Table 4: Psychological hazards reported by male and female workers in livestock rearing
|Type of Psychological Hazards/Condition||Extent of Hazard||Male
|Chi square test|
|Lack of Sleep||Never||195||36.11||274||50.74||469||43.43||70.35**|
**significant at 1% and * at 5% level of significance, NS – Non significant
Comparative Analysis and Ranks on Various Self Reported Hazards and Risks in Livestock Rearing
Table 5 revealed gender wise self reported occupational health hazards and risks associated in livestock rearing. Significant differences were observed between male and female respondents with respect to physical, biological, chemical and psychological hazards suffered by the respondents while performing various livestock related activities. No differences were found in terms of ranking mentioned by male and female respondents. Physical hazards ranked first followed by biological, psychological and chemical hazards.
Table 5: Comparative analysis and the ranks on various self-reported hazards and risks in livestock rearing
|Type of Hazards||Male
|Rank||t test value|
** Significant at 1 % level of significance
Correlation Analysis between Socio-Personal, Economic and Communication Characteristics of Respondents with Occupational Health Hazards
Nine independent variables were subjected for correlation analysis with self reported occupational health hazards. Extension agency contact was the only variable that had highly significant but negative correlation indicated that increase in extension agency contact lead to increase in awareness that ultimately resulted in reduction of incidence of hazard. A perusal of the Table 6 suggests that irrespective of gender, annual income (-0.001), income from livestock (-0.043), livestock holding (-0.036) and yield from milch animals (-0.048) had insignificant and negative correlation with the occupational health hazards in livestock activities. The overall correlation coefficient value ‘r’ was 0.140** for age and its relation to occupational health hazard was significant as well as positive indicating that elder persons were more prone to hazards. The variable such as annual income, income from the livestock, herd size and yield of milch animals were negatively correlated with the occupational health hazard in livestock activities.
Table 6: Correlation analysis between socio-personal, economic and communication characteristics of respondents with self reported occupational health hazards
|Socio-personal, Economic and
|Correlation Coefficient ‘r’ Value|
|Occupational Health Hazards in Livestock Activities|
|Income from livestock||-0.037||-0.044||-0.043|
|Experience in livestock rearing||0.045||0.058||0.03|
|Yield from milch animals||0.009||-0.051||-0.048|
|Extension agency contact||-0.235**||-0.032||-0.127**|
** Significant at the 0.01 level, * Significant at the 0.05 level
Preventive Measures against Work Related Risks/Hazards
The fine tuning of the expertise in handling animals and the knowledge of animal behaviour is a handful of armour for self-protection and safety of others as well. The preventive measures against work related risks /hazard were assessed through a set of twenty four questions. Respondents were asked to rate their answers indicating either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on various preventive measures (Table 7). There were no significant difference between male and female with regard to 22 preventive measures except the two, adopted by respondents. Our results show that majority of the male and female workers (>96%) were boiling/cooking the raw milk/meat properly before drinking/eating, wash hands properly after work (~90%), keep proper ventilation in buildings and silos (~67%), avoid working with animals during sickness (~74%), avoid eating of dead and diseased meat products(~68%), disinfect the utensils etc (~73%) and keep their healthy animals separate from eczema infected animals (~61%). The other important findings of the study revealed that approximate 60-90% of respondents irrespective of gender had negatively responded and avoided to adopt the crucial preventive measures such as use of protective clothing/gloves, living with the animals under the same roof, proper washing of affected part bitten by dog, monkey , dehorning, fumigation of animal houses, use of mosquito net/odomos/mosquito coil, separate grazing areas for the diseased and healthy animals, anti-rabies vaccination of own, animal vaccination against contagious diseases and immunization of tetanus toxoid. Chi square analysis also revealed insignificant differences (P>0.01) between male and female workers for follow of safety and preventive measures to check the occupational health hazards in livestock rearing for majority of the activities except for avoiding stay with the animals under the same roof in the house and use of latrines for urination and defecation wherein significant differences were observed.
Table 7: Preventive measures against work related hazards and risks followed by male and female workers in livestock rearing
|Chi square test|
|Use of protective clothing / gloves /masks etc||No
|Proper boiling of raw milk before drinking and proper cooking before eating of raw meat||No
|Proper washing of hands after work with animals, farm before eating and before food preparation||No
|Proper ventilation in buildings and silos at the time of feeding to control organic dust||No
|Avoid working with animals when you are sick, weak, pregnant and old||No
|Avoid eating of dead and diseased meat products||No
|Avoid living with the animals under the same roof in a house||No
|Proper washing of affected part bitten by dog, monkey etc. with phenyl containing soap||No
|Disinfecting the utensils, mangers and the place used for diseased animals by boiling water||No
|Keeping healthy animals separately from eczema
|Regular use of disinfectants and spraying of pesticides in the animal sheds, shelters, walls and surrounding areas to prevent tick borne disease||No
|Dehorn dangerous animals||No
|Keep floors free of broken concrete and slippery areas||No
|Fumigation of animal houses||No
|Use of mosquito net/odomos/mosquito coil||No
|Use of separate grazing areas for the diseased and healthy animals||No
|Use of latrines for urination and defecation||No
|Avoid bathing of children in the same pond where animals are cleaned / bathed||No
|Proper disposal of diseased /dead animals by deep burying||No
|Anti-rabies vaccination of farmers||No
|Animal vaccination against contagious diseases||No
|Tetanus toxoid immunization||No
|Have you ever hospitalized due to the animal work related hazard by physical/ biological /chemical/psychological||No
**significant at 1% and * 5%level of significance, NS – Non significant
The study revealed that physical hazards ranked first followed by biological, psychological and chemical hazards. Both male and female workers encountered physical hazards in varied frequency however, females reported more physical hazards such as sudden fall during work, animal kicks/scratches, crushing/attacks, trauma, swelling of hands, body fatigue etc. as compared to male workers, may be due to their high involvement in livestock rearing activities. A number of physical hazards; some of them quite similar to our study have been reported among farm workers involved in poultry, dairy, piggery husbandry or during involvement in animals in various agricultural operations (Holness and Nethercott, 1994; Driscoll et al., 2005; Popendorf, 2011; Stallones, 2011; Ghosh, 2014). Dangerous environment such as slippery floor, manure pits, corrals, and dusty feed areas, in cattle, sheep and goat production lead to various type of physical hazard has also reported by Myers et al., in 1997. In the present study, significant differences were found between the male and female workers with regard to exposure to biological hazards such as ringworm infection, fever, amoebiasis, conjunctivitis and infestation with internal and external parasites due to lack of awareness about the use safety precautions for safe handling of animals. Majority of the respondents were also unaware about zoonotic diseases however, on presentation of symptoms, it was perceived that they might have been infected with brucellosis and occasionally leptospirosis. This data however were not based on laboratory confirmation of the hazards. It is suggested that such type of study should also include laboratory backup to assess the real situation of the disease. Pandey and Meena, 2013 also revealed that low awareness of zoonoses, combined with food consumption habits and poor animal husbandry among rural respondents of Basti and Gorakhpur districts of Uttar Pradesh increased the risk of contracting zoonoses. Study on hazards exposure of workers of animal related occupations in Nigeria revealed a prevalence of 69.6% occupational hazard exposures, workers were at risk of myriad of occupational specific and non- specific hazards, 6.5% work related hospitalization was observed among the workers and thirty three (14.3%) of the respondents had experienced occupational related diseases/sickness (Awosile 2013). A study from India, where cattle generally roam free, revealed over 5% of rural inhabitants suffering from ringworm infections (Chatterjee et al., 1980). Again chemical hazards were reported both by male and female respondents but significant differences were reported with regard to extent of chemical hazards encountered. It shows that respondents suffer due to use of chemicals in disinfection, decontamination, control of vectors of diseases, cleaning in animal related activities. Harmful chemical compounds in the form of solids, liquids, gases, mists, dusts, fumes and vapours exert toxic effects by inhalation (breathing), absorption (through direct contact with skin), or ingestion (eating or drinking) on the workers. The study also reported significant differences in the suffering due to eleven psychological hazards between the male and female workers in livestock rearing. Though comparable studies on psychological parameters are not available in India, reports available from abroad had shown female farmers were vulnerable more than the male farmers to psychological hazards (Walker and Walker 1987; Weigel and Weigel; 1987; Wilson et al., 1991; Kelly et al., 199; Malmberg et al.,1997; Melberg 2003). The overall correlation coefficient value ‘r’ was 0.140** for age and its relation to occupational health hazard was significant as well as positive indicating that elder persons were more prone to hazards. It may be because the old age livestock farmers, whether males and females were less aware of causes of hazards in livestock activities due to poor participation in the extension related activities or practicing unscientific animal husbandry activities with minimum personal hygiene and protective aids. The variable such as annual income, income from the livestock, herd size and yield of milch animals were negatively correlated with the occupational health hazard in livestock activities. The results suggest that increase in family income, larger herd size and more milk yield obviously lead to better standard of living, good nutritional and health status of the livestock farmers. The development of larger herds of more intensely handled livestock also increased the likelihood of injuries, thus were contrary to the finding of this study (Kendall et al., 1997). Insignificant differences (P>0.01) were found between male and female workers with respect to safety and preventive measures to check the occupational health hazards in livestock rearing for majority of the activities except for avoiding stay with the animals under the same roof in the house and use of latrines for urination and defecation wherein significant differences were observed. In a study in Nigeria, majority of the workers irrespective of gender were unaware of the various preventive measures about work related hazards and risk in livestock rearing (Awosile, 2013). Multiple injuries were more frequent amongst respondents who took risk and perceived that farm related injuries were inevitable than those who practiced safe farming like wearing protective clothing, operating machinery safely (Harrell 1995). In a cross-sectional study in Zimbabwe, it was observed that less than 50% of the workers were aware of various preventive measures against work related zoonotic diseases. Use of protective coverings (23.5%), good hygienic practices (7%) and washing of hands after work period (6.5%) were the most common preventive measures against work related zoonotic diseases noted by workers (Chikerema et al., 2013). In the present study ~65% of farmers live with their animals under the same roof with objective to guard them. This increases the probability of exposure to zoonotic disease conditions of bacterial origin, such as Salmonella spp, internal parasites such as tapeworms (Taenia solium), and ectoparasites like mites and fleas (Nasinyama et al., 1998; Nasinyama et al., 2000).
Summary and Conclusion
The present research discussed many of the hazards and risks as raised by male and female workers in a variety of tasks in livestock rearing and provided a significant data on livestock-related human health problems in Uttar Pradesh. The findings of this study could be well used to develop suitable strategy/interventions/ procedure for the rural livestock owners. Further, an investigation to find out the occupational health hazards of livestock owners had a personal as well as social significance. Having understood causes for occupational hazards coupled with their correlates, efforts were made rightly to launch and improve the situation by minimizing the hazards. Age and gender of livestock workers had a significant impact on the occurrence of various occupational health hazards in livestock rearing. Females in comparison to male workers were more susceptible to risk factors responsible for health hazards due to high participation in livestock rearing activities thus there is need for education and training of livestock workers to increase the knowledge and skills in animal related occupations on health hazards and necessary preventive measures.
It is recommended to institute a comprehensive programme on appropriate interventions including the capacity building programs among the livestock owners with respect to age and gender to educate them at doorstep about the severity of effects of these hazards and the safety precautions and the appropriate measures to reduce the burden of injury, risks and hazards.