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, and that of the employees to embrace the personal protective measures they are empowered with by their employers. To reduce the risk and 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 water if human waste or sewage contacts your eyes.
  • Waterproof 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 means recent sewage or animal waste contamination.

What is Ascaris?

Ascaris is an intestinal parasite of humans. It is the most common human worm infection. The larvae and adult worms live in the 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.
  • High risk jobs
    • Potential exposure to Hazardous Biological Agents.

Medical Surveillance for workers

  • Hearing conservation programme
    • Pre employment baseline and exit
  • Annual Medical Examinations

These need to include:

  • Checking for arthritis in hands and fingers for repetitive work
  • Verification of good eye-hand and leg co-ordination
  • Check for pathology of hands and fingers
  • Immunisation for Hepatitis A and Polio as minimal compliance – Anti-bodies to be monitored.
  • Visual acuity
    • Keystone on pre-employment, periodic and exit Snellen vision screening
      • Lung screening
    • Spirometry on pre-employment, annually and exit
  • Biological Monitoring
    • As per Environmental Hygiene survey

Medical Surveillance Summary of tests for the department:

Test Intervals
Audio screening Pre-employment baseline
Vision screening Keystone: Pre-employment, periodic and exit medical examination
Lung screening Spirometry Pre-employment, periodic and Exit medical examination
General Medical All employees: Pre-employment, annual and exit standard physical and include check for pathology on hands and fingers.

Special medicals: Immunisation program and antibody blood tests to monitor for exposure to HBA’s.

Biological monitoring Nil
Immunisation Hepatitis A and Polio as minimal compliance – Anti-bodies to be monitored.
Other HSP Group suggests regular investigations and surface swabs

Personal Protective Equipment:

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.

Education on disease prevention should include but not be 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.
  • Working with moving machinery.
  • Job specific training

Workers should be urged to seek medical assistance in the display of any signs or symptoms   of diarrhea, vomiting or stomach stomach cramps

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