A Cross-Sectional Study on Occupational Health and Safety of Municipal Solid Waste Workers in Telangana, India

Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2021 Jul-Sep;25(3):169-177. doi: 10.4103/ijoem.ijoem_21_21. Epub 2021 Oct 9.


Background: The occurrence of workplace hazards, occupational diseases, and deaths contribute significantly to the increase in the global burden of diseases. The Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) workers experience occupational stressors throughout the process of waste management that affects their well-being and results in high rates of occupational health problems. It is vital to understand the workplace practices and occupational morbidities of the MSW workers to ensure their safety and well-being. In this context, the study aimed to explore the occupational health and safety practices at the place of work among the MSW workers in Karimnagar and Hyderabad in Telangana, India.

Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted in two cities of Telangana. A total of 394 MSW workers were surveyed. The number of MSW workers in Karimnagar and Hyderabad were 152 and 194, respectively. A pre-tested questionnaire was administered to the MSW workers to study the occupational morbidities and workplace safety practices. Focused group discussions were conducted among the MSW workers in both cities. In-depth interviews of sanitary supervisors in Karimnagar were conducted. Semi-structured questionnaires and interview guides were used with questions on sociodemographic characteristics, health status, work environment, protection strategy, and healthcare utilization. MS Excel and NVivo-12 were used for data analysis.

Results: Musculoskeletal problem was the major reported morbidity among the MSW workers (76.6%). Injuries were reported more among the MSW workers in Hyderabad (39.7%) along with a fear of being hit by vehicles while working on the main roads. About 88.7% of the MSW workers had less than secondary education. There was a wage difference between the contract and permanent MSW workers. There was a lack of provision of personal protective equipment and poor working conditions, overall. Lack of basic amenities such as the provision of drinking water and toilets apart from inadequate social security and healthcare facilities was reported.

Conclusion: This paper highlights the unsatisfactory working environment and high-occupational morbidities among the MSW workers in Telangana. There was a lack of basic amenities at the workplace making it difficult for the MSW workers. A comprehensive approach which focuses on the health and safety with social security for the MSW workers is required.

Keywords: India; morbidities; municipal solid waste workers; occupational health; public health; workplace safety.