Occupational and environmental medicine

Respiratory symptoms among Ethiopian flower farm workers

Field work in the flower industry in Ethiopia.

Bente E. Moen

Main content

Flower industry is among the most important export industries in Ethiopia, employing more than 50 000 workers. Several occupational exposures, such as pesticides and endotoxins are present in flower greenhouses, but working conditions and health-status among workers in Ethiopian flower industry are not known. A questionnaire based interview was conducted among 213 flower industry workers from three flower farms and 60 control workers from supermarkets, and a walk-through survey was performed in the three flower farms, from February to March 2012. Flower farm workers have high prevalence of respiratory and dermal symptoms, which are rarely reported among controls. The high-exposed female workers inside the greenhouse have more respiratory and dermal symptoms than low-exposed workers outside the greenhouse, also when adjusting for age and education. Limited access to PPE and unsafe pesticide routines are also documented. Our study indicates that working in flower greenhouses is associated with adverse health effects, and proper PPE should be advised.