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A Review of the Working Conditions and Health Status of Waste Pickers at Some Landfill Sites in the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa

Waste management is a global phenomenon and a challenge to all nations. There is a need to ensure that waste is handled in an environmental friendly and healthy manner. In South Africa, the last stage of the life cycle of waste is at the landfill sites, which are normally on the outskirts of town and away from communities because of their release of harmful pollutants. As in other developing countries, there are people who try to make a living by engaging in waste picking at the landfill sites. This study researched on working conditions and health status of waste pickers working at some landfill sites in the City of Tshwane metropolitan Municipality; namely Ga-Rankuwa, Onderstepoort and Hatherley. The study used a multi-method approach, where both qualitative and quantitative factors of research were utilized. The results from the 176 waste pickers in the survey showed that 43% believed that their illnesses were work related, while 34% said they were not ill at all. About 19% of the waste pickers in the survey believed their illnesses were not work related. Their working conditions remain undesirable, but their work serves as their main source of survival. Waste pickers at landfill sites are aware of the risks of working at the landfill sites especially in inhuman working conditions. There is therefore a need to facilitate improvement in their working conditions and raise awareness on their health status.

Author(s): Mathema Mothiba, Shadung J Moja and Chris Loans

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