Q: Hello Dr, my job is waste collection. I work with ministry of environment. What can I take to prevent infections from the constant inhaling of the waste I am exposed to?
A: Thanks for writing in. This is a very important question given that you are exposed to these conditions on a daily basis. This also important for the rest of us as we go about cleaning our environment especially over the weekends.
To start off, ensure that you are dressed appropriately with the right long sleeved overalls. These overalls are usually reflective and if they are not be sure to ask for a reflective vest. This makes you visible to other drivers and even the driver of your own garbage truck. Accidents have been known to occur where a person collecting waste is run over by their own duty truck! Ensure that you also wear gloves and heavy boots.
The gloves protect against cuts from shards of glass and other sharps that may be in the bin liners (dustbin bags). It can also protect from potentially dangerous and corrosive substances like acid etc.
By the way, even when cleaning the home, please use gloves to clean areas like the toilets. Yes, I know that it is your poo…but guess what there are loads of germs in there! So, wear gloves to scrub and then be sure to scrub your hands thoroughly afterwards 😀
One of the injuries you are exposed to is that from lifting heavy garbage bins etc. This may lead to herniae or spinal injuries, especially if you don’t lift properly. For more on herniae, please click on https://chatwithdrketch.com/2014/05/14/daily-health-tips-i-am-scared-because-i-have-hernia/
Ensure that you lift with both hands after testing to feel the weight of the bag/garbage. You may want to invest in a back support body belt too. This will help prevent back strains. There are also potential injuries from slipping on slippery surfaces especially when it rains. To prevent this, ensure that you wear the right heavy non-slip boots.
Earplugs (disposable and re-useable) should be used to protect the ears from the continuous noise of the truck. Disposable masks may also be used to reduce the impact of the smell of garbage.
Given the potential for being cut by sharps, please ensure that you get vaccinated for tetanus and hepatitis. Eat healthy ensuring that your diet has lots of colour (fruits and vegetables). This helps build up your immune system ensuring that your body is ever ready to fight infections.
Studies show that though people are prone to infections due to the very nature of this job, the most problems encountered really speak to injuries obtained due to lack of use of personal protective clothing. So, play safe and dress safe 🙂
Have a fab weekend, everyone 😀