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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 112-115

Occupational health hazards in sewage and sanitary workers


Occupational Medicine Division, National Institute of Occupational Health, Ahmedabad, India

Correspondence Address:
Rajnarayan R Tiwari
Occupational Medicine Division, National Institute of Occupational Health, Meghani Nagar, Ahmedabad - 380 016
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.44691

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An estimated 1.2 million scavengers in the country are involved in the sanitation of our surroundings. The working conditions of these sanitary workers have remained virtually unchanged for over a century. Apart from the social atrocities that these workers face, they are exposed to certain health problems by virtue of their occupation. These health hazards include exposure to harmful gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, cardiovascular degeneration, musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritic changes and intervertebral disc herniation, infections like hepatitis, leptospirosis and helicobacter, skin problems, respiratory system problems and altered pulmonary function parameters. This can be prevented through engineering, medical and legislative measures. While the engineering measures will help in protecting against exposures, the medical measures will help in early detection of the effects of these exposures. This can be partly achieved by developing an effective occupational health service for this group of workers. Also, regular awareness programs should be conducted to impart education regarding safer work procedures and use of personal protective devices.






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