Well-designed, user-centred gear suitable for a range of use-cases is needed. Failure to use gear is seen purely as a behavioural problem but gear is not suited for the nature of work.
Not suited for Indian context:
Difficult to work with gear in humid conditions.
Most types of gear are borrowed from other occupations, not modified for their use in sanitation and even within sanitation, same gear provided for different types of work (e.g. sewer cleaning requiring gear that allows for dexterous work, not needed in other types of work).
Ill-fitting and poor quality gear does not allow workers to perform tasks, leads to loss of grip (e.g., gum boots make it difficult for workers to wade through sludge).
Lack of formal culture of safety
Gear provided is limited and doesn’t match guidelines, even presence of one item (such as a glove) is counted as gear.
Incentivise innovation in safety gear; create accountability around use of gear.
This insight applies to all types of unsafe sanitation work:
What this entails: Unblocking and cleaning sewer and wastewater drains
Frequency: Complaint-based, seasonal (rainy season) and occasionally for preventive maintenance
Location: Urban areas
What this entails: Emptying, collection and transport of human waste from septic tanks on an on-demand basis
Frequency: De-sludging frequency varies greatly, ranging from 6 months to 10-15 years
Location: Primarily urban, mostly unplanned localities
What this entails: Cleaning faecal matter from railway tracks and platforms,railway toilets and platform toilets
Frequency: several times a day
Location: Rail network and railway stations
What this entails: Emptying of dry/single-pit latrines primarily in rural areas; daily collection and transport/emptying of fecal matter
Location: Primarily rural
What this entails: Maintaining and operating sewage and faecal sludge treatment plants on a daily basis
Location: Urban, across the ~527 STPs/FSTPs in India
What this entails: Maintaining public/community toilets (often insanitary) on a daily basis
Location: Rural and urban CTCs, mostly in slums; public convenience shelters
What this entails: Operating and maintaining school toilets on a daily basis
Location: Schools – rural and urban
What this entails: Cleaning open drains and road sweeping, often encountering fecal matter due to open defecation and insanitary latrines connected to drains
Location: Urban – drains alongside roads
What this entails: Cleaning toilets in middle-high income households/institutions, encountering insanitary conditions at times
Location: Urban areas