Biomedical waste disposal rules: Sanitary workers’ health at risk in Chandigarh hospital
While few employees were seen wearing protective gear, others said they don’t use it as it hinders their work and isn’t equipped to save them from sharp-edged objects.punjab Updated: Feb 07, 2018 19:05 IST
A dingy room with blood at the entrance, heaps of blue, black, yellow bags and blood-soaked cotton pads strewn and inside bare hands, without masks and proper footwears go about their business. This is the condition in which many sanitary employees of Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, perform one of the riskiest job of dealing with biomedical waste, which also includes animal and human flesh.
Many workers could be seen ignoring their health as they work in unhygienic environment without taking proper preventive measures.
According to the Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016, it is the duty of the occupier (hospital in this case) to ensure occupational safety of all its health care workers and others involved in handling of biomedical waste by providing appropriate and adequate personal protective equipments (gloves, face mask and coveralls).
“Mazdoori mein majboori hai (we have no option but to work under such conditions),” said a worker who came out of the room after segregating the waste.
His face was covered but he was wearing surgical gloves, which could hardly protect him from sharp-edged waste items.
“Who would like to do this job? We are poor and have no other option, hence we are doing it,” he said.
Another worker, who came out of the room was not wearing gloves or mask and had slippers under his feet. When asked, why he has not taken preventive measures he replied, “I cannot wear mask as it is very suffocating inside the room. Secondly, these surgical gloves are too slippery and hardly protect from any sharp object.”
Looking at his slippers, he said with a smile, “I am used to deal with this waste and blood now. I have been doing this for several years.”
While the two were talking, another worker was seen carrying a yellow and a blue bag and he threw it in the room. He was also not wearing gloves or mask. Few minutes after, one more worker was seen carrying waste without these preventive measures.
Another worker said, “Sanitary attendants are provided masks and gloves but it is not compulsory for them to wear it. Those who want they wear it and others don’t.”
When asked about vaccination, they said, “Dr Dewan (now director, health services) is taking good care of us and he has got our health cards made. We all are given timely vaccination.”
It also points to conduct health check up at the time of induction and at least once in a year for all its health care workers and others involved in handling of biomedical waste and maintain the records.