Impact of Poor Stream Conditions on the Health of Stream Workers in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Keywords:health and safety, susceptibility, severity, risks, diseases and streams
Despite increased efforts by the South African Government to minimise environmental degradation, the surface water in urban water sources is still highly polluted. This is a hazard to many urban and suburban communities and workers who use the water from urban river environments. In this study, we aim to determine the impact of poor stream conditions on the health of stream workers in Umlazi. We used the Health Belief Model as a conceptual framework to explore the susceptibility to and the severity of health hazards that affect stream workers’ health state. A qualitative case study design was used. The data were collected through interviews (n = 25) from community-based cooperatives and employees of municipality departments who are involved in the management of streams in the Umlazi Township. The data were recorded, transcribed, coded and thematically analysed. Current stream conditions were perceived to be deteriorating, which affected stream workers’ health and perception of safety. The streams were noted to have medical waste, venomous snakes, other pests and insects, sewer leakages and illegal sewer connections created to compensate for the general lack of services from the municipality. Cholera and diarrhoea were identified as the prominent health threats because of the prevailing stream conditions. Improving the working conditions of sanitation workers would contribute to ensuring the health and promoting the well-being of all people of all ages in the area by reducing their exposure to unsafe chemicals on the job, ensuring sustainable management of water and sanitation for all and providing decent work conditions.
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