Introduction: Occupational health and safety (OHS) is a critical concern in any industry, but it is of paramount importance for waste workers who often face hazardous conditions and potential health risks. In Nepal, waste workers play a crucial role in managing waste disposal and maintaining cleanliness in communities. However, their well-being often remains compromised due to inadequate safety measures. The ISO 45001:2018 standard offers a comprehensive framework that can be effectively employed to address the occupational health and safety challenges faced by waste workers in Nepal.

Understanding ISO 45001:2018: ISO 45001:2018 is an international standard designed to provide organizations, irrespective of their size or sector, with a clear and practical framework for managing occupational health and safety risks. It replaces the previous OHSAS 18001 standard and offers a more proactive approach to OHS management.

Challenges Faced by Waste Workers in Nepal: Waste workers in Nepal encounter a range of hazards daily, including exposure to infectious materials, chemical substances, heavy lifting, and inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Moreover, long working hours and minimal training contribute to the heightened risks they face. As a result, health issues such as respiratory disorders, skin infections, and musculoskeletal problems are prevalent among waste workers.

Applying ISO 45001:2018 to Improve OHS for Waste Workers:

Leadership and Worker Participation: Engaging both management and workers is crucial. Waste management companies should establish a clear chain of responsibility for OHS, provide the necessary resources, and ensure that workers are actively involved in identifying hazards and proposing solutions.

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment: Conduct a thorough assessment of potential hazards that waste workers are exposed to, such as biological, chemical, physical, and ergonomic risks. Prioritize risks based on their severity and likelihood, and develop appropriate control measures.

Operational Control and Emergency Preparedness: Implement controls to mitigate identified risks. Provide waste workers with proper PPE, including gloves, masks, and protective clothing. Establish protocols for emergency situations and train workers on responding to incidents effectively.

Training and Awareness: Regular training sessions should cover topics such as proper waste handling techniques, the use of PPE, and emergency procedures. This empowers waste workers to protect themselves and their colleagues.

Communication and Consultation: Foster open communication channels where waste workers can raise concerns, report incidents, and suggest improvements without fear of reprisals. This can lead to the continuous improvement of OHS practices.

Performance Evaluation and Improvement: Regularly monitor OHS performance through audits, inspections, and incident investigations. Analyze trends and use the data to refine OHS processes and strategies.

Worker Well-being: Address worker well-being holistically by considering factors like working hours, workload management, and access to health services. Promote a culture of well-being that goes beyond physical safety.
Benefits of Implementing ISO 45001:2018:

Reduced Risks: Effective implementation of ISO 45001:2018 will significantly decrease occupational hazards faced by waste workers, leading to fewer injuries and illnesses.

Enhanced Reputation: Organizations that prioritize worker safety and well-being earn a reputation as responsible and ethical employers, attracting talent and stakeholders.

Legal Compliance: Adhering to ISO 45001:2018 ensures compliance with local and international OHS regulations, protecting organizations from legal repercussions.

Improved Productivity: Healthier and safer workers are more productive, leading to higher efficiency and overall organizational success.

Conclusion: The welfare of waste workers in Nepal is a matter of utmost importance. By adopting ISO 45001:2018, waste management companies and local authorities can create a safer and healthier environment for these workers. This standard provides a comprehensive roadmap for identifying, assessing, and mitigating occupational health and safety risks. Implementing ISO 45001:2018 demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding waste workers’ well-being, thereby contributing to a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable Nepal.