Regular illnesses have been normalised:
With years of exposure, workers have accepted health issues as a regular occurrence and unless probed further, don’t even associate their health issues as issues directly arising from the job.
Work related injuries treated as personal issues:
Workers bear significant monthly expenses for medical treatment; most contractual workers don’t have sick leaves as a part of their contracts. They have limited expectation from govt./ contractors and further get penalised for their illnesses.
- Workers are not allowed to take sick leaves and lose out on payment for the day if they take a sick leave, have to work even with fever, body ache. In contrast govt. employees have health cards (for free surgeries) and insurance.
We need to improve working conditions and access to healthcare; incorporate health benefits into worker contracts.
This insight applies to 5 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: 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: 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: 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