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DETERMINANTS OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ RESPONSE TO SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS ON HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS

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 CHAPTER ONE

 INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Technology all over the world is dynamic in the sense that there are better and new methods of production as a result of advancement in technology.  The improved method of production has led to mass production of goods and services. As the production increases, consumption also increases. The influence of technological development in the production and consumption of household products has brought about new regulations to protect the consumer.  These regulations on the production, sale and consumption of household products tend to influence industries on the quality of their products.  As production of goods and services faces different challenges as a result of regulations imposed by regulating bodies, the public are to be assured of their safety.  Relevant government agencies are empowered to investigate, seize, destroy and ban potentially unsafe products. With technological advancement, innovation, research and development, a number of regulations are in place such as Chemical and Pesticides Act, 2008, Drugs, Foods and related products Act 1999   (Fatokun, 2003). Manufacturers must be aware of these regulations, when proposing, developing and launching new products for use by consumers.  The knowledge of the regulations would help producers to ensure that the products conform to the safety regulations.

Regulation is a set of rules or laws made to explain, expand or provide details of basic requirements of law or to render effective the statement of principles or policy objectives of the law. Long before and after Nigerian independence, several laws, acts and decrees have been enacted in Nigeria to regulate and control the manufacturing, marketing and consumption of certain products deemed to present potential danger to public health.  These legislations include the Drug and Poisons Ordinance of 1902, amended in 1927 and 1935 respectively.  This ordinance was changed to Poisons and Pharmacy Act, cap 152  in 1965, amended in 1999.  Food, Drugs and Related products (Registration etc) Act 1993 amended in 1999 and 2007  as Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Foods (miscellaneous provisions) Act cap 73, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2007;  Milk and Dairy Topics Regulation Act, 2003 and  Processed Food Registration Regulation Act   2004, amended in 2007, (Fatokun, 2003).

The laws also specified conditions in which they will be sold and means of communicating their hazardous nature or risk to the consuming public. The legislative Acts requires the dealers/marketers of these products to mandatorily keep a record of sale, or point of purchase registration.  The laws equally require the manufacturers of these products and other manufacturers that use these products to manufacture consumer products to truthfully label the containers, indicating ingredients or contents, manufacture batch, manufacturing date, expiring date, and instructions on usage, counter indications, method of disposal, warnings and cautions.  Where the product poses a greater risk to the consumers, the word ‘POISON’,  ‘CAUTION’, ‘WARNING’ or ‘DANGER’ is written on the label, for instance pesticides. These statements are commonly referred to as safety instructions. Safety instructions are those instructions that are printed or contained on products packets, leaflets, cartons or containers or at times broadcasted over the network for products already in distribution (Kumolu-Johnson, 2004).

These safety messages or instructions may be presented in form of symbols, drawings or signs with or without wordings.  For a student to respond to these safety instruction messages, the instructions must be recognized and received by the student through a media.  The receipt and recognition of safety instruction message is the first step towards students’ response.  It makes the student to pay attention, then read and comprehend.  Reading and comprehension is the ability of the student to understand and internalize the safety instruction messages. Understanding safety instructions entails storing and recollecting the message for future response.  Storage is the act of committing safety instructions to short or long term memory with the intension of recollecting them for future use.  Storage and recollection of safety instructions is a vital step towards response.

Furthermore, for a student to respond to safety instructions, he/she must perceive the stated danger, risk or warnings.  Perception of the risk or danger is the way the student notices the warning.  It is the way student understand, reacts and feels about the true nature of the danger stated in safety instruction message.  It is only when the true nature of the stated danger is understood and felt (positively or negatively) that the student will decide to respond or not to respond to the message.  The purpose of safety instruction messages is to inform and invoke response or action on the student. The level of response to safety instructions on household products especially pesticides becomes important for the safe consumption and use of the products by the consumers example students. Actual response to safety instruction messages by students entails action and obedience to the dictates of the safety instruction.  The actions and obedience of the students are most times influenced by the media for receipt, recognition, reading and comprehension, storage, recollection and risk perception of the safety instructions.

The regulations are necessary before the pesticide products enter channel of distribution.  These regulating Acts, Decrees and Laws are enforced in Nigeria by Consumer Protection Agencies such as; the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) etc. The Agencies were established to act as watchdog to the manufacturing, marketing and consumption of the regulated products.  The Agencies were set up to perform among other functions, regulation and control of the manufacture; importation, exportation, storage, distribution and advertising of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemical, detergents and all drinks including packaged and bottled water in order to protect the consumers (students)  (Akunyili, 2004). The products commonly referred to as regulated products are categorized according to their characteristics and nature such as; Pharmaceuticals, Nuclear, Agrochemicals, Household, Laboratory or the hazardous nature (Ifudu and Ezie, 2004),

Pharmaceutical or drugs include any substance of vegetable, animal or mineral of any preparation or admixture thereof, that is used for internal or external application to the human body, to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent disease which affects the structure or any function of the body of man and other animals.

Agro-chemicals are compounds or mixtures used to increase the productivity and quality of the soil and farm crops which include among others, fertilizers and herbicides etc. Laboratory products are chemical products used in the laboratories’ for the manufacture of other products. Some of these products are hazardious in nature and can be harmful if it comes into contact with the body. The sales of such products are restricted and the dealers of such products are required to keep mandatory records of their customers.

Household products on the other hand are those products used in and around the home and family.   Ifudu and Ezie, (2004), classified household products to include;  Auto products, such as break fluid lubricant, seal out, deicer, car wax, anti-freeze; automatic transmission fluid, motor oil, tires and spare parts; Home inside products such as air freshener, bleach, detergent, toilet/bowl cleaner, floor cleaner, carpet cleaner and furniture polish among others;  Personal care/use products like antiperspirants, hair spray, shampoo, and make-up. Soap, nail polish, hair colour, hair permanents and  shoe polish among others; Landscape/yard products such as fertilizers, lawn care, swimming pool products, Pesticide Topic like animal repellants, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides; Hobbies and crafts products such as adhesives, primes, varnish, glaze, and Home maintenance products like paints, putty, insulations and  chalks among others (P. 6-7). Household products usage cut across various products used in the home ranging from food, drugs, cosmetics, textiles, pesticides, and fertilizer, to plastics and paints etc.  Among these household products, the focus of this study is on pesticide.

The term pesticides covers a wide range of compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, molluscides, plant growth regulators and others. Pesticides are substances meant for attracting, seducing, destroying or mitigating any pest. The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FOA, 2002)  defined pesticides as any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying or controlling any pest, including vector of human or animal diseases, unwanted species of plants or animals causing harm or interfering with the production, processing, storage, transport or marketing of food, agricultural commodities, wood and wood products or animal food stuffs, or substance that may be administered to animals for the control of insects or other pests in or on their bodies.  The term includes substances intended for use as a plant growth regulator, defoliant, desiccant or agent for thinning of fruits or preventing the premature fall of fruits. Pesticides are also applied to crops either before or after harvest to protect the commodity from deterioration during storage and transportation. In general, pesticide is a chemical or biological agent (such as virus, bacterium, antimicrobial or disinfectant) that deters, incapacitates, kills or otherwise discourages pest.  Pesticides are used to control organism that are considered to be harmful, for instance they are used to kill mosquitoes, that can transmit potentially deadly diseases like west nile virus, yellow fever and malaria.  They can also kill bees, wasps or ants that can cause allergic reactions. Pesticides are used in grocery stores and food storage facilities to manage rodents and insects that infest food such as grains.

Pesticides may cause acute and delayed health effects in students and other consumers who are exposed to it.  Pesticide exposure can cause a variety of adverse health effects ranging from headache, simple irritation of the skin and eyes to more severe effects such as affecting the nervous system, mimicking hormones, causing reproductive problems and cancer. Some of the most prevalent forms include leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, brain, bone, breast, ovarian, prostate, testicular and liver cancers. Chronic health effects may also occur years after even minimal exposure to pesticides in the environment as a result 0f pesticide residues which we ingest through our food and water, (United Health Organisation, WHO, 2006).

Students like other consumers buy pesticides with the intention of controlling pest or disease vectors such as mosquitoes and cockroaches, and are often unaware of the safety instructions/warnings stated either on the content or labels. Over the years some of these pesticide products have been found to be harmful to health or even kill humans, poison to the natural environment, destroying many animal species (Kumolu-Johnson, 2004). Worst still, most of these products are faked, adulterated or counterfeited in Nigeria and elsewhere and are used daily by the students knowingly or unknowingly.  Almost every manufactured household product sold in the markets (both Urban and rural markets) and international markets even in e-marketing are faked or counterfeited (Akunyili, 2004).   Many students are deceived into buying these products as original through persuasive advertising and other promotional activities of the manufacturers or dealers.  However, some students buy them out of choice because they are cheaper and with the aim their limited or mini resources spent on them will satisfy their wants. Incidentally, counterfeiting pesticide products does not only cause economic loss to the purchasers or students, but also constitute danger to the lives of the students.  Thousands of students and other consumers have died and many others maimed for life as a result of pesticide products (Reynolds, 1997).  This accounts for the reason for regulating the products through legislation, correction and control and passing such safety measures or instructions to the consuming public through various media.

Everyone is a consumer of pesticide (household) products and therefore communication of safety instructions affects everyone.  Pesticide products that have not entered distribution channel and are found to be harmful are easily corrected but hardly detected at this stage because the regulatory bodies are mostly concerned with the products in circulation.  However, where a product in circulation is found to be harmful, the regulating agency tries to retrieve the products from the distribution channel for destruction. The agency also issue several instructions to the consumers to stop the consumption of such products, destroy the product or return such products in their possession to a designated point of purchase or take a definite step/action.  This designated action which a student is expected to take on receipt of safety instruction message in order to avoid harm is student’s response to such instructions. This response demands immediate action from the student, to stop the use of the product, discard the product, destroy the product, and return the product or to take one action or the other to avoid harm.   Safety  instructions are also issued in form of product recalls (withdrawals), several restrictions, complete ban, warnings, notices and cautions that are communicated to the consumers through product labels, leaflets, safety education, publications, direct mails and  radio and television broadcast.  Through all those media safety instructions that urge the student to take a designated action in order to avoid harm from the products are passed to them.  However, the students response to the instructions carry a function of many factors or determinants.

A determinant is what influence, determines or makes a student to respond or not to respond to safety instructions such as type of headline, method of message presentation, familiarity with the product and instruction, obviousness of the danger, etc.   Non-response to these safety instructions affects everyone especially youths between the ages of fifteen and thirty years (Onuoha  2007). Most of the youths in this category are students who in most cases are found to be undergoing courses of study at first degree level in the universities (FRN, 2007). These students can be male or female students. The result of the preliminary studies carried on the research show that female students respond more to the instructions than male students (Suleiman 2001; Obadie and Freeman, 2007)

A university is an institution where students study for degrees and where academic research is done.  It is an institution at the highest level of education where one can study for a degree or do research.  An undergraduate is a student in a university or college who is studying for his/her first degree.  An undergraduate may be a male or female student.  A male student is a person that belongs to the sex that does not give birth to babies who is studying at first degree level at university.  A female student is a woman or lady/girl that is undergoing first degree course at the university.   A female student is any student that is capable of given birth to babies. Many research findings have shown that male and female university students consume a lot of household products especially pesticides knowingly or unknowingly and therefore should be protected. This category of consumers’ (university students) believes in familiarity with products and instructions as a result of years of use without harm.  The students are also referred to as consumers in this study.

A consumer is any person or firm who buys goods, services, ideas or information for either personal or business use.  Philip and Duncan (2008) described a consumer as one who makes use of goods and services to satisfy personal or household wants.  However, consumers are of two categories, namely – the final or ultimate consumer and the business or industrial consumers.  The final consumers are those who buy the product for ultimate use or consumption, and not for further resale or for manufacturing other products such as the undergraduate students.  In this study this category of consumers are referred to as students. The students find it difficult to pay attention, read or respond to safety instruction messages as a result of brand loyalty or familiarity with the product and instructions. Apart from brand loyalty and familiarity, the students’ level of response to safety instructions messages may be determined by the media for receipt and recognition, rate of reading and comprehension, storage and recollection as well as the risk perception of the safety instructions.  However, the level at which these elements determine the students’ response to the safety instructions is not yet certain.

Safety instructions affect everyone irrespective of status, age, location or sex.  Imo and Enugu States are two of the thirty six states of the Federation of Nigeria.   They are located east of the River Niger. The two states each have state and federal universities that train students’ as future manpower for the economic development of the states in particular and Nigeria in general. However, this study considers only government owned universities, conventional and technological institutions that are not less than twenty year of establishment.   Private universities were therefore not considered in this study because of ownership structure, years of establishment (none is up to twenty years). Students in the states use or consume pesticides in their daily activities. However, the following questions still remain unanswered about how many students are aware of these safety instructions or avail themselves of such information.  How many students take action on the basis of such instructions? The use of household products (pesticides) has resulted in serious health implications to man and his environment especially university students who believe in common immunity to certain hazards as a result of years of use without injury. Studies have shown that some of these pesticides do pose a potential risk to humans and other life forms and unwanted side effects to the environment, (Forget, 2003; Igbedioha, 2011; Jonathan, 2013).  No segment of the population is completely protected against exposure to pesticides and the potentially serious health effects, though a disproportionate burden, is shouldered by the people of developing countries such as Nigeria (where there is no serious pesticide control measures) and by high risk groups like students (WHO,2006)

Statement of the Problem

The need to protect students and other consumers against harmful effects of some household products such as pesticides has calls for regulations such as product safety instructions, withdrawals, severe restrictions, seizure, destruction or complete ban.  Most of the time students and indeed other consumers find it difficult to receive, read, comprehend and respond to safety instructions on pesticides and the consequences are severe health challenges ranging from simple irritation of the eye and the skin to cancer and hormone disruption.

Over 98 percent of sprayed pesticides reach a destination other than their target organisms, including non-targeted areas such as air, water and soil, thereby causing pollution. Pesticide products have been found to cause acute and delayed health effects in persons exposed to it, ranging from simple eye and skin irritation to more severe effects such as affecting the nervous system, mimicking hormones, causing reproductive problems and cancer (Bassil et al, 2007). World Health Organisation WHO (2006) estimated over 5 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year resulting in over 3 million deaths including students mostly in Africa.

Most people in Nigeria use and dispose pesticide and other chemical contents indiscriminately without having firsthand knowledge of its negative effects in the environment and to human health in general or the regulations guiding the use (Okeke, 2014).   Besides, students find it difficult to pay attention, read and respond to safety instruction messages on pesticides contained in the leaflets, packages or broadcasted and the resultant effects are serious health implications such as immune suppression, hormone disruption, diminished intelligence, reproductive abnormalities and cancer.

The impaired health challenges associated with the use of pesticides has necessitated greater safety instructions communication to ensure better response from people especially university students. However, the level of impairment and other illnesses as well as deaths experienced from pesticides by students in universities in Nigeria including Imo and Enugu states suggested that students may not be responding adequately to safety instructions placed on or about pesticides.  The students might be restricted by some certain determining factors. In view of the need to ensure greater students response to safety instructions, several studies had been conducted by Forget, (2003); Igbedioha, (2011) and Jeyaratnam, (2009) to determine people’s response to safety instructions or advertisement effectiveness rate on household products. Incidentally, none of the studies examined determinants of university students’ response to safety instructions particularly on household (pesticide) products. This study was therefore set to ascertain the factors that determine university response to safety instructions on household products (pesticides) in Imo and Enugu states of Nigeria.

Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study is to ascertain the determinants of university students’ response to safety instructions on household products (pesticides) in Imo and Enugu states of Nigeria.  Specifically, the study sought to ascertain:

  1. the determinants of university students’ response to safety instruction on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria.
  2. the level to which media for receipt and recognition determine university students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu states of Nigeria.
  1.  the level to which reading and comprehension features determine university students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu states of Nigeria.
  2.  the level to which storage and recollection features determine university students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria.
  3. the level to which risk perception features determine university students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu sates of Nigeria.

Significance of the Study                                           

This study will provide empirical evidence and create awareness on the importance of safety instructions to business education students. The study will further inspire the students to pay attention and respond appropriately to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products as well as to educate the university students and other consumers on the need to respond to safety instructions on products. It will also assist the household product manufacturers and regulatory agencies to understand the characteristics of the consumer and when safety instructions will be received, read and responded to and the best media or channel to reach the targeted audience.

The findings of this study would be beneficial to business educators, students and other consumers of household (pesticide) products, consumer protection agencies, household product marketers and advertisers.

The result of the study on the determinants of students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products will benefit household regulatory bodies such as Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Consumer Protection Agencies etc by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct a successful product withdrawal by portraying those things that prevent students’ active participation or responding positively to safety instruction messages. This finding of the study will also assist university students to understand the action required of them on receipt of safety instruction messages such discarding the product, stopping the use of the product etc. It will also assist the product advertisers and regulatory body to understand how best to root their safety instructions or messages to convince and motivate the consumers to respond.

The result of the study on the level to which media for receipt and recognition determine the students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products will enlighten the students on the importance of paying attention to safety instruction messages through various media such as print media, broadcasting media, outdoor media and direct notifications.  The knowledge will help the students to improve on their adherence to safety instruction messages by recognizing and paying attention to the media that are more effective.

The knowledge of the findings on the level to which media for receipt and recognition features determine university students safety instruction response will also assist advertisers and product regulatory bodies to improve on their methods of message presentation and execution by designing the message using attention catching words, colours or pictographs, placing the most important element of the message within the first two sentences of the safety instruction.  The products regulatory bodies and advertisers such as Consumer Protection Agencies will also gain the knowledge of how to strategize their messages in better ways to receive attention and recognition from the students.

The result of the study on the level to which reading and comprehension features determine university students’ response to safety instruction on household (pesticide) products will benefit business education students by providing them with the knowledge of how to construct safety instructions that will be readable and comprehensible by using combination of symbols and words.  The knowledge gained will hopefully enhance regulatory officers and business advertisers skills in communication using symbols and attention getting words, maintaining adequate instructions, clarity of wordings, length of message and message layout, thereby transforming the present transmitter centered approach to receiver centered interactive knowledge that will enhance reading and comprehension of safety instruction messages.

The findings on the level to which storage and recollection features determine university students response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products will benefit products regulatory bodies such as National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and business advertising agencies by providing them with the knowledge and skill necessary for adequate safety instruction program that will easily be stored and recollected for response by the targeted audience.  Adequate construction and timing of safety instruction messages helps in retaining and remembrance of the message.  Business educators will also benefit from this finding of the study by improving on their recall rates and response to safety instruction messages especially when safety instructions are adequately timed and concrete words not abstract one used for safety instruction messages. Safety instruction messages should be made explicit.

Business Educators will benefit from the result of the study on the level to which risk perception features determine university students response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products as it will provide them with the knowledge of risk perception features associated with harmful products. When safety instruction steps are followed, the student will avoid the inconveniences associated with non response.  The regulatory bodies will also benefit from this finding of the study by increasing  their knowledge on how best to describe risks or danger associated with non response in such a way that the students will not hesitate to respond by describing  vividly the catastrophic effects of the danger.

Research Questions    

The following research questions guide the study:

  1. What are the determinants of university students’ response to safety instruction on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria?
  2. What is the level to which media for receipt and recognition determine university students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria?
  3. What is the level to which reading and comprehension features determine university students’ (male and female) response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria?
  4. What is the level to which storage and recollection features determine university students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria?
  5. What is the level to which risk perception determine university students’ (male and female) response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria?

Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance:

  H01: There is no significant difference in the mean response of male and

female university students’ on the determinants of the students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria.

H02: There is no significant difference in the mean response of male and       female university students on the level to which media for receipt and recognition determine students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria.

H03: There is no significant difference in the mean response of male and female university students’ on the level to which  reading and comprehension features determine students’ response to safety instructions on household (pesticide) products in Imo and Enugu States of Nigeria.

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