Occupational Health Risks among Solid Waste Handlers in Nairobi County
Nguyai, Timothy Mwangi
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This study analyzes and quantifies the occupational health risks faced by those who handle solid garbage in Nairobi County. Despite the numerous worries raised about the potential harm that trash could cause to the environment and the general populace, occupational hazards in waste management have received little consideration in terms of risks and associated costs in the rush to adopt or embrace technology like composting. The study findings were presented using a descriptive research design. Percentages, means, standard deviations, and frequencies were prepared for presentation as a result of the quantitative analysis of the collected data using SPSS. The qualitative component consists of in-person interviews, open-ended surveys, and field observations. 79% of the respondents were men, whereas only 21% were women. The study's key conclusions showed that human waste, toxic paper, empty containers holding chemical waste, including heavy metals in batteries, solvents, and traces of medical waste such injections and soiled bandages are among the hazardous wastes in the informal enterprises in Nairobi County. Skin infections, diarrhea, and coughing, according to the majority of respondents (89%), are signs of diseases associated with solid waste management. Additionally, a major issue and obstacle to efficient countywide solid waste management is the inaccessibility of sites for trash service providers. According to the report, hazardous waste includes items like human waste, paper and containers that include poisons or chemical residues, medical waste, and heavy metals found in batteries. The study found that insufficient funding, poor infrastructure, and outdated technology, together with the inaccessibility of locations to waste service providers, pose substantial obstacles to the county's successful solid waste management. The study recommends awareness campaigns on 4R’s; Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) as a method of solid waste management and mandatory source separation in Nairobi County, the public authority ought to likewise have the option to give workshops to the unskilled workers and show them how to exploit the waste for livelihood while protecting themselves from occupational health risks.