Centre’s advisory to all states to ensure safety of sanitation workers

New Delhi: The Centre today issued an advisory to all states for ‘ensuring the health and safety of sanitation workers during COVID 19’, asking them to draw up clear Standard Operating Procedures for their work protocol through the lockdown period.

The April 20 advisory asks for ‘mandatory orientation’ of sanitation workers on COVID 19 , providing them with a special pass/ID card/permission letter for working during lockdown, besides adequate provision of personal Protective Equipment, sanitizers and disinfectants for their safety.

“In the war against COVID 19 the role of the sanitation workers working in municipalities and other local bodies is of crucial importance. Considering that sanitation workers are in the frontline in the fight against COVID 19, it is imperative to ensure their health and safety”, says the advisory issued by the Department of Social Justice & Empowerment.

The communication also asks every state to designate a nodal officer to lead and monitor the implementation of the SoP at department and Urban Local body level.

Issued to Chief Secretaries of all states, the communication follows after safety of sanitation workers was raised as a key concern in discussions among empowered groups of the government on COVID 19.

While the Central Pollution Control Board has also issued a detailed set of instruction on COVID waste handling by sanitation workers, an empowered group is also working on an ex gratia scheme to cover sanitation workers, loading workers, truckers and other frontline workers who are on short term contracts.

While asking states to draw up a SOP for the sanitation workers, the Centre has already recommended some measures to be taken immediately towards the same.

It has asked that sanitation worker should be able to obtain an ID card or a permission letter from the ULB and carry this with him at work during the lockdown period.

The guidelines on best practices to be followed say that the sanitation worker is to change into work clothes and at a designated changing area before starting the day’s work. He is to be in mask, gloves, footwear and appropriate clothing- full sleeved shirt, long trousers and apron and keep gloves in a plastic bag rather than pockets.

No garbage is to be touched with bare hand, hands are to be washed with soap and water before and after garbage collection and every time the gloves are removed. The mobile phone- if used- has to be put on speaker.

Workers are to maintain 1 meter distance from each other and the general public and work in small groups only- if necessary. After work, they are advised to wash and clean work tools and PPE with water and disinfectant cleaner and be put to dry in the sun. This is to be followed by a shower and a wash of the work clothes at the changing area and a change of clothes.

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