Despite relentless efforts to keep our streets and highways clean, Health and safety of lives continues to be the greatest challenge faced by highway/street cleaners in Lagos and other cities.
When driving through the major highways in Lagos, the orange or green themed uniforms of these patriots speaks volume about their duty as they are armed with their tools cleaning the high way in an effort to keep our roads and city clean and tidy.
But as much as their responsibility is to clean, they are also exposed to a variety of work-space hazards and health risk factors in their working environment such as dust, volatile organic matters, mechanical stress and many others which can result to certain occupational diseases.
According to a recent statistics released by the Institution of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH), about 46500 workers have been exposed to carsinogenic substances that led to death around the world.
In recent years, the alarming record of loss of life of highway/street sweepers has become a cause for concern. It would be recalled that in October 2019, a street sweeper Folashade oguniyi was knocked into the lagoon while performing her duty on 3rd mainland bridge. This, amongst other similar incidents continues to threaten efforts to keep our roads clean.
The major hazards encountered by these highway/street sweepers includes:
– Reckless drivers
– Dust and inhaling toxins
– Musculoskeletal hazards
RECKLESS DRIVERS: There are lots of reckless and possibly drunk drivers on our roads today while others drive without lights in the dark. This entire act and many more poses a very high level of risk to Street Sweepers who work on the road in the early hours of the morning.
DUST: Dust is another major challenge in the quest of keeping our roads dirt free. Road dust consist of deposit from vehicle exhaust and particles from tire and brake gear. Street Sweepers are also exposed to larger dust particles such as sand which may get trapped in the nose and throat therefore leading to cough and sneezing. Dust particles enough can lead to coughing, sneezing, hayfever and asthma attack for people who have respiratory conditions.
MUSCULOSKELETAL HAZARDS: It has been observed that highway/street cleaners engage in poor positioning while sweeping which makes them vulnerable to pains in joints and muscles and this is as a result of their daily activities.
To quench this menace, HSENations sought the view of a health and safety expert, Dr. Bakare Femi, who shared some tips on how Street Sweepers can be safe while on the job. According to him,
– Employers should hold sensitizing trainings for these workers. The training should cover the risk they will be exposed to, the safe way of doing the job, e.t.c (e.g not backing the direction of upcoming vehicles) the use of P.P.E (personal protective equipments) such as reflective vest, nose mask etc.
– They should also be trained to maintain a tall posture to prevent back pain, ensuring the sweeping broom is tall enough so they will not have to bend.
– They should be trained on how to lift heavy objects.
– They should not over strain one side of the body if you must work from an awkward posture. Learn to change side intermittently.
– They should see doctor for more information on how they can maintain a healthy musculoskeletal sy stem and lower risk of musculoskeletal disorders.