This chapter contains the explanation and evaluation of the findings presented in the preceding section. This chapter provide us with evaluation and analysis based on the hypotheses, objectives, or research question. This chapter relates to the published works outlined and assessed in the review of literature chapter.
6.1. Demographic profile
During the whole survey and during the analysis of data collection within the Mauritius Fire and Rescue services, it was observed that internal factors were dominant compared to external factors when indentifying the impact on the health and safety of fire fighters. While analysing the demographic profile section within the questionnaire, it was found that most of the respondents were between 20 and 30 years indicating a relatively young working force within this sector. 71 respondents had Higher School Certificate as highest education level and more than one year working experience.
6.2. Awareness of hazards and years of service.
The results showed that all the respondents are of the hazards pertaining to their job
The results collected shows that there was a weak significant association between the two variables (phi=0.353, p=0.00< 0.005). However, the data collected represented in the cross tabulation (Table 1) shows that despite long years of service that is for more than 30 years fire fighters have lesser knowledge on the hazards pertaining to the job. This relationship might be linked to the fact that they are not given adequate opportunities for professional growth within the MFRS. Thus the results can support the findings of Gold and Slocum (2008) with respect to awareness of hazards and years of service. They argued that there are weak association between awareness of hazards and years of service since fire fighting is a hazardous and riskiest profession. Moreover, in their work they further analysed different relationships between occupational hazards and severity of risks. In the present research these two variables were not taken into consideration. More emphasis was laid on types of hazards and training to have control over their working conditions. However, those fire fighters who were open to new experience may show poor performance as they do not have long years of service in this sector. Thus, fire fighters with longer years of service should be sent on dangerous locations. On the reverse side of the coin it may be possible that those experienced fire fighters have health complications or point of retirement.
6.3. Types of injury sustained during career
Q 4: Which type of injury have you sustained during your career?
The types of occupational injuries sustained by fire fighters are as such;
- Minor injuries, for example, minor cuts and bruises
- Major injuries, for example, major cuts, bruises, sprains, illness or injury resulting in less than 3 days lost workdays
- Over 3 days injuries, for example, head injuries, internal bleeding, eye injuries, spinal injuries, fractures, dislocation and any illness or injury resulting in 3 days or more lost workdays.
Figure 7 above illustrates the types of injuries sustained by fire fighters at the workplace. 117 fire fighters have sustained minor injuries, 70 of them have sustained major injuries and the remaining 58 have sustained over 3 days injuries which is less compared to minor injuries. It was found that the majority of the fire fighters experience minor injuries
Furthermore, figure 6 represents the degree to which fire fighters are exposed to fire. 73 fire fighters were exposed to hazards to a large extent and 128 of them were exposed to hazards to a certain extent. To a lesser extent 32 fire fighters were exposed to hazards and the remaining 12 fire fighters were not exposed to hazards at all.
Objective 3: To examine the type of injuries sustained by the fire fighters and the degree of exposure to hazards in fire fighting.
Fire fighters have great injury rates as a result of their occupations’ consequential demands and exposure to hazards conditions (anon, 2013).
The data collected in the survey that appropriate training and attention is provided to the safety and health of the fire fighters. The perception of the fire fighters on types of injuries and degree of exposure to hazards is that they agree that appropriate training is given to them but the management system should be improved, new features should be taken into consideration. However, there is still room for improvement to reduce the other types of injuries that is major injuries and over 3 days injuries. The factor on injury risk potentially provides insight on how to target injury prevention attempts for the fire departments.
6.4. Assessing whether risk assessment carried out.
A risk assessment is a process to identify potential hazards in a workplace and to analyze what could be the consequences if a hazard occurs. (HSE, anon).
Every employer has the duty to effect a risk assessment within 30 days of the start of any operation (OSHA, 2005).
The data collected have shown that the majority of fire fighters agreed that risk assessment is carried out in MFRS. Every employer has a legal obligation to effect a risk assessment within 30 days of the start of any operation (OSHA, 2005). The results showed that 183 respondents agreed that risk assessment was carried out on the fire ground and 62 respondents disagreed. We can therefore deduce that the views of the respondents were satisfactory as the majority of them agree that risk assessment in carried out and this confirms that the management was abiding to the law.
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Moreover, a one sample t-test was carried out to determine the relationship between awareness of risk assessment and fire fighters opinion whether risk assessment can eliminate or mitigate risks. The one sample test, statistics programs produce an estimate mean (1.27), with population mean μ. The mean variable of the variable fir this particular sample of awareness of risk assessment is 1.27, which is statistically and significantly different from the test value 0.4. We can therefore conclude that fire fighters opinion on whether risk assessment can eliminate or mitigate risk has a significantly higher mean on awareness of risk assessment than 40%.
The perception of the fire fighters in the fire departments is that they agree that risk assessment can help eliminate or mitigate risks. Yet there’s room for improvement in the MFRS. Improvement on risk management plan can be also made by making surveys on the hazards and risk that cause health problems and injuries.
6.5. Assessing management care and fire fighters ability to communicate
One of the objectives of this study was to assess whether management care about the safety and health of fire fighters and fire fighters ability to communicate with management.
The management has the duty to put the best of effort in providing safety, health and welfare of all the employees. However, it is a legal obligation for the management to provide as far as is reasonably practicable a safe place of work to all the employees (OSHA, 2005).
A correlation test was carried out to determine whether there is a relationship between whether management care about the safety and health of fire fighters and fire fighters ability to communicate with the management a correlation test was carried out. For the correlation test the statistic program produced an estimate r (0.134). The Pearson’s r value 0.134 is positive at 1% confidence interval. Thus, the correlation test between management care and fire fighters ability to communicate with management shows that there is a weak relationship between management care about health and safety of fire fighters and fire fighters ability to communicate with management.
The views of the respondents on the management was not satisfactory as the management was not abiding to the law and even the fire fighters hesitate or are in capable to communicate with the management. Therefore, we can deduce that there is a poor management system at the MFRS.
6.6. Providing suggestion for improving safety and health of fire fighters
To provide suggestions for improving safety and health in the fire department is one of the objectives of this study.
The minority of the fire fighters who are aware of the procedures in the fire department found that the management has the priority to give safety training to all of them concerning safety procedures, safety policy, rules and regulations and awareness on their rights to provide suggestions to improve their safety and health.
Thus to improve the health and safety of fire fighters in fire departments certain standards of safety which include risk awareness by the fire fighters, fire fighters participation in risk assessment , the fire fighters should be given motivational benefits to increase safety culture and safety behaviours at the workplace and the fire fighters should be well trained and given appropriate personal protective equipment for the task they are assigned. The management should carry out investigation and find ways how to remedy a dangerous situation. Also the management should seek the perception of fire fighters about the risks and hazards. . The management can also implement health programs which will include regular check up of the fire fighters and a continuous report of the health of the fire fighters should be recorded
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