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Table of Contents
LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 178-180

Improving the health and safety standards of sanitation workers: Global perspective


1 Vice-Principal Curriculum, Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission05-Dec-2019
Date of Acceptance16-Jan-2019
Date of Web Publication2-Sep-2020

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu - 603 108
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/HMJ.HMJ_89_19

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Improving the health and safety standards of sanitation workers: Global perspective. Hamdan Med J 2020;13:178-80

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Improving the health and safety standards of sanitation workers: Global perspective. Hamdan Med J [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jan 27];13:178-80. Available from: http://www.hamdanjournal.org/text.asp?2020/13/3/178/294180




  Introduction Top


Optimal provision of sanitation facilities is a crucial determinant for the maintenance of health and wellbeing and thus essentially requires financial investment.[1] Sanitation workers (viz. individuals involved in cleaning toilets, collection of waste, cleaning of sewers, etc.,) play a crucial role in safeguarding the health of humans and environmental health at the expense of jeopardising their own health and lives. [2,3] It will not be wrong to document that most of us notice their presence only when we encounter blocked or dirty toilets or functional irregularities in the sewerage system. Further, they are discriminated for their job profile from the society and often made to work in hazardous settings.[3]

The ground reality

Sanitation workers act as a bridge between the infrastructure available for sanitation and the delivery of sanitation services and, in turn, the accomplishment of Sustainable Development Goal 6.[3] Even though their role is indispensable for the healthy lives of all, they themselves are exposed to inhuman working circumstances, violation of their dignity and human rights, insufficient financial support and shortage of the workforce.[2],[3] Moreover, they come into direct contact with human waste, in the absence of equipment or protection, especially in low and middleincome nations and are thus prone to the acquisition of a wide range of infectious diseases and health hazards.[3],[4]

Need for improvement

Acknowledging the magnitude of the problem, there is an immense need to improve the working conditions and strengthen the existing pool of workers to ensure that the global targets are met.[3] This can be accomplished by bringing about reforms in the existing policies and legal provisions throughout the service chain and empowerment of the workers through their associations. In addition, there is a bigtime need to formulate and adopt guidelines which not only aid in the assessment, but also the mitigation of the occupational health hazards. This will essentially include investment and emphasis on the training of the workers, provision of recent technology (which minimizes the chances of direct human contact) and personal protective equipment.[2],[3]

Additional measures

Moreover, there is also a need for the collection of evidence to identify the problems and challenges faced by the workers, so that customized and targeted remedial measures can be implemented. It is quite encouraging to note that in some of the nations, sanitation workers constitute a part of the national labour standards and are thus provided with all the necessary prerequisites and equipment to effectively discharge their role without endangering their lives or dignity. [3,5] Further, there is a need to give due recognition for their job by improving on their salary and other remuneration, so that they remain motivated towards their work.[1],[2],[3]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, in the global mission to ensure the provision of clean water and decent toilets to all, regardless of the settings by the year 2030, we are in need of many more sanitation workers.[3] However, it is our responsibility to ensure that safe sanitation should be looked at simultaneously with a dignified working environment and promotion of health standards of sanitation workers.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Necessity to augment the financial investment in the water sanitation and hygiene services worldwide. Environ Dis 2017;2:67-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
2.
World Health Organization. Sanitation – Key Facts. World Health Organization; 2019. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sanitation. [Last accessed on 2019 Dec 05].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Bank Group, World Health Organization, International Labour Organization, Water Aid. Health, Safety and Dignity of Sanitation workers – An Initial Assessment. Washington DC: World Bank Press; 2019. p. 1-24.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Kiernan DF, Chin EK, Sclafani LA, Saidel MA. Multiple drug-resistant Alcaligenes xylosoxidans keratitis in a sanitation worker. Eye Contact Lens 2009;35:212-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Yuan WJ, Hu L, Wang Z, Ye Y. The Occupational and procreation health of road sweeping female sanitation workers in a district of a city. Zhonghua Lao Dong Wei Sheng Zhi Ye Bing Za Zhi 2018;36:666-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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