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Hazards of wood sawmills in Nigeria’s cities: the role of fourth industrial revolution technologies

Andrew Ebekozien (Department of Construction Management and Quantity Surveying, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Marvelous Aigbedion (Department of Economics, Bingham University, Karu, Nigeria)
Okechukwu Saviour Dominic Duru (Department of Quantity Surveying, Federal Polytechnic, Owerri, Nigeria)
Oguike Hyginus Udeagwu (Department of Quantity Surveying, Federal Polytechnic, Owerri, Nigeria)
Ibeabuchi Lawrence Aginah (Quantity Surveying Department, Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Imo State, Nigeria)

Journal of Facilities Management

ISSN: 1472-5967

Article publication date: 13 October 2021

Issue publication date: 11 January 2023




Studies have proved that wood sawmill workers are exposed to high occupational risks if not well managed. In developing countries, many wood sawmills are found in urban and semi-urban areas. Studies exploring how residents near these wood sawmills perceive and react to these risks is scarce in Nigeria. The application of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technology is possibly one of the ways to manage the likely hazards. This study aims to investigate the possible hazards associated with timber sawmills in residential areas and the role of 4IR technologies in proffering feasible solutions to mitigate them in Nigeria’s cities.


Data were sourced from three cities and nine sawmills across Nigeria. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with authoritative participants (residents, environmentalists, government agencies, sawmill owners, 4IR technology experts and medical experts) who have been championing the regulation and safety of timber sawmill locations within the cities (Lagos, Benin City and Owerri) via a phenomenology type of qualitative research and supplemented by secondary sources.


Findings show that timber sawmills are located across the three cities in Nigeria and may have contributed to the health and environmental challenges of the people living in the neighbourhood. The identified hazards were grouped into three sub-themes (physical, health and environmental hazards). Findings identify robots, modularisation, cyber-physical systems, the internet of things and services and human-computer interaction as the digitalised technology that can be used in sawmills to mitigate hazards for the benefit of mankind.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is limited to hazards that residents in timber sawmills locations may face in Nigeria’s cities and data collected via face-to-face 23 interviews. The paper’s referral to past publications in the findings and discussion section compensated for the small sample size.

Practical implications

As part of this paper’s implications, the emerged recommendations will strengthen collaboration with relevant stakeholders regarding control measures via the use of 4IR technologies in timber sawmills. This will stir up policymakers to develop possible policies that will promote and create the platform for the implementation of 4IR technologies in city sawmills.


Apart from probably being the first paper to explore the hazards of residents in timber sawmill locations and proffer solutions via the usage of the 4IR technology, this paper’s contribution emphasis the need for in-depth future studies regarding the risk perceptions of Nigeria’s residents living in timber sawmill area.



Special thanks to the participants for providing knowledgeable contributions to enhance the findings of this paper. Also, the authors appreciate the comments, suggestions, and recommendations provided by the anonymous reviewers, which collectively helped hone and strengthen the quality of this manuscript during the blind peer-review process.

Funding: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and CIDB Centre of Excellence (05-35-061890), University of Johannesburg, South Africa.


Ebekozien, A., Aigbedion, M., Duru, O.S.D., Udeagwu, O.H. and Aginah, I.L. (2023), "Hazards of wood sawmills in Nigeria’s cities: the role of fourth industrial revolution technologies", Journal of Facilities Management, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 84-101.



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