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Groups: Heed Safety Tips to Protect Waste Workers from Extreme Heat

Mangangalakal
Enterprising members of the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal in Capulong, Tondo, Manila buy e-waste for recycling

Quezon City. The environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition and its member groups from the informal waste sector (IWS) are advising waste workers across the country to take all protective measures against heat stress amid the smoldering summer weather.

Under the scorching sun, thousands of women and men from the informal and formal waste sectors earn a living by helping manage the country’s colossal waste generation estimated at about 61,000 metric tons daily.

More often than not, door-to-door resource collectors, garbage haulers, itinerant buyers of recyclables, organic waste handlers, street sweepers, and those who reclaim valuable discards from waste bins, dumps and landfills work under the blazing sun with minimal protection.

The very nature of their work exposes waste workers to sweltering heat and to associated illnesses such as dehydration, hyperthermia (or abnormally high body temperature), heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

The EcoWaste Coalition and its affiliates Bagong Silangan Resource Collectors Association (BASIRCA, Quezon City), Kabulig sa Kinaiyahan Resource Collectors Association (KKiRCA, Cagayan de Oro City), Mintal Resource Collectors Association (MIRCA, Davao City). Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Mangangalakal sa Longos (NLML, Malabon City), Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa Bagong Silang (SMBS, Caloocan City), Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal sa San Vicente Ferrer, Camarin (SMSVFCCC, Caloocan City), and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong (SMC, Manila City) recognize the threat of extreme heat to waste workers’ health, safety and livelihood.

“Laging magdala ng tubig at kapag mainit ay tumabi muna sa isang malilim na puno at magpahinga,” advised Andres Gammad, President, BASIRCA.

“Ingatan po natin ang ating kalusugan,” added e-waste dismantler Joanna Amican, NLML President. “Ito ay ating kayamanan at puhunan na rin sa pakikibaka sa buhay.”

Waste workers
Like most waste workers, street sweepers are prone to the health effects of sweltering heat and must take adequate rest breaks.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the IWS groups are therefore advising waste workers to heed these safety tips to avoid heat stress, especially when working outdoors:

  1. Avoid long exposure to the sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
  2. Take a breakfast, shower and pray before heading out to work.
  3. Know your body’s limits to work safely in very hot weather and adjust work hours to reduce risk.
  4. Be calm, avoid getting hot-headed or angry, and keep a happy and positive disposition in life.
  5. Always bring water in reusable containers and drink plenty of water.
  6. Avoid alcoholic, caffeinated and sugary drinks, which can hasten dehydration.
  7. Eat cooling fruits and vegetables like cucumber, singkamas (jicama), watermelon, and tomatoes to keep your body cool.
  8. Put on a wide-brimmed sombrero, umbrella hat or any head coverings like bandannas or “Good Morning” towels.
  9. Carry an umbrella to shield yourself from the sun; bring a pamaypay (native hand fan) to cool down.
  10. Wear long sleeves, light-colored and lightweight loose-fit clothing; bring extra clothes.
  11. Set an umbrella in place in your kolong-kolong (motorcycle with sidecar for carrying recyclables) or install a tarapal (awning) using discarded tarpaulins to block the sun.
  12. Avoid, if not quit, smoking and/or vaping to better cope and stay safe in summer heat and beyond.
  13. Be alert to symptoms of heat-connected sickness.
  14. Know the first aid against heat stress.
  15. When feeling dehydrated and weak, slow down, find a shade, drink water, cool off and rest.

Graduates of the Women in Waste’s Economic Empowerment – Basic Business Empowerment Skills Training (WWEE-BBEST) residing in Baseco, Manila City; Pinagbuhatan, Pasig City; and Pinyahan, Quezon City also provided similar ideas on how waste workers can cope with the oppressive heat.

Additionally, the EcoWaste Coalition urged employers of formal waste workers in the public and private sectors to heed Labor Advisory No. 8 issued last year by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on heat stress prevention and control in the workplace.

Among other things, employers are urged, with agreement from the workers, to adjust work hours and rest breaks until the weather condition has improved and to provide workers with free and adequate drinking water.

Lastly, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged the public, the households and businesses in particular, to be compassionate and to offer drinking water to waste workers serving their communities.

Aside from heat stress, waste workers face other typical occupational health and safety problems, including cuts from sharp objects and other types of wounds, chemical burns, loud noise and exposures to harmful pollutants and pathogens, the group said.


References:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/climate-change-heat-and-health
https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=546659347643803&set=a.404715165171556&type=3&locale=en_GB (DOLE advisory on preventing and controlling heat stress in the workplace)

EcoWaste Coalition
Let's make an eco-friendly, zero waste, and toxic-free Philippines a reality.
https://www.ecowastecoalition.org/