Safety equipment is primitive and an impediment to workers.

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.

No adaptability:

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).

Impede dexterity:

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

Low benchmark:

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

LocationPrimarily 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

LocationPrimarily rural

What this entails: Maintaining and operating sewage and faecal sludge treatment plants on a daily basis

LocationUrban, 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

LocationSchools – 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

LocationUrban – drains alongside roads

What this entails: Cleaning toilets in middle-high income households/institutions, encountering insanitary conditions at times

LocationUrban areas

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