Employees working with human waste, face serious health hazards and risks of becoming ill.

It is the responsibility of employers to ensure the fitness and health of the employees by providing adequate and appropriate training, PPE with regard to the risks at the workplace, and that of the employees to embrace the personal protective measures they are empowered with by their employers.

To reduce the risk of exposure and to protect workers against illnesses, such as diarrhea, HSP group has put together a basic guide:

Basic Hygiene for workers:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after handling human waste or sewage.
  • Avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes, nose, or open sores and cuts while handling human waste or sewage.
  • Before eating or drinking, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Remove soiled work clothes and eat in designated areas away from human waste and sewage-handling activities.
  • Smoking and chewing gum should be avoided when dealing with human waste or sewage.
  • Open sores, cuts, and wounds should be covered with clean, dry bandages.
  • Gently flush eyes with safe (running tap / bottled) water if human waste or sewage contacts your eyes.
  • Waterproof rubber gloves should be used to prevent cuts and contact with human waste or sewage.
  • Wear rubber boots at the worksite and during transport of human waste or sewage.
  • Remove rubber boots and work clothes before leaving the worksite.
  • Clean contaminated work clothing daily with 0.05% chlorine solution (1 part household bleach to 100 parts water).

Water need to be tested for E. coli bacteria and Asacris parasite.

What is E-Coli?

Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli, is a Gram-negative, facultative anaerobic, rod-shaped, coliform bacterium of the genus Escherichia that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms. The indication of E. coli in water indicates recent sewage or animal waste contamination.

What is Ascaris?

Ascaris is an intestinal parasite found in humans. It is the most common human worm infection. The larvae and adult worms live in the human small intestine and can cause intestinal disease.

Worker Health Hazards to consider:

  • Noise levels in this area have to be below 85 dB.
  • Ergonomic issues e.g. repetitive work or manual handling of goods.
  • Physical Hazards
    • Standing for long periods of time.
    • Strain put on eyes due to repetitive work.
    • Potential burn injuries.
    • Skin irritation caused by contact of chemical with skin.
  • Chemical exposure
    • Environmental hygiene survey must be conducted, as per OHSA to quantify hazards

We advise you to ask your Medical Service provider the following questions before conducting medicals:

  • What type of testing should be conducted during my medical?
  • How often should I do medical screening on my employees?
  • What immunisations should my employees be administered with?

It it advisable that the Personal Protective Equipment is used:

Employee needs to be provided with:

  • Waterproof gloves: to prevent exposure to the waste
  • Safety/Rubber boots: to prevent exposure to the waste
  • Lab coat/overalls: To keep human waste or sewerage off clothes
  • Goggles: to protect their eyes from the splashes of human waste or sewage.
  • Vapour/face mask: to protect the employee nose and mouth from the splashes of the human waste.


All workers who handle human waste and sewage should be educated on disease prevention including but not limited to the following topics:

  • Company Health and Safety Induction training
  • Manual goods handling safe practices
  • PPE specific training, including care of PPE
  • Right to know regarding hazardous biological agents exposure.

Workers should seek medical assistance if they experience the following signs and Symptoms:

  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting
  • stomach cramps.

Should you require medical input or guidance determining the risk at your company, feel free to contact HSP Group on 0861 873 477 or info@hspgroup.co.za

Article written by Belinda van Wyk

Refence: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/sanitation-wastewater/workers_handlingwaste.html