By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The State government has notified the rules for employment and rehabilitation of manual scavengers. As per the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2022, notified in the gazette, any person engaged to clean a sewer or a septic tank would have to be provided with 44 items of protective gear and safety devices by his employer. 

What the rules say

  • Employment of any person for manual scavenging is completely banned under the Act. Manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks with safety precautions including protective gear and devices can be undertaken under exceptional cases only, with the permission of the local authority for reasons to be recorded
  • All those engaged to clean sewer or septic tank must be provided 44 safety devices, including air compressor,  airline breathing apparatus, airline respirator with manually operated air blower, breath mask, breathing apparatus, Chlorine mask, full body wader suit and searchlight 
  • The local authority or officer designated should ensure that 14 cleaning devices are used by persons engaged in cleaning sewer or septic tanks. The devices include jetting machines, hydraulic-operated trolley-mounted grab buckets, manual rods, shovels, spades, drainage cleaning machines and the like
  • All protective gear and safety devices should be checked every six months and necessary repairs or replacements should be made by the employer
  • There should be a minimum of three employees present at all time, one of whom should be a supervisor
  • The atmosphere within the confined space should be tested for oxygen deficiency and toxic and combustible gases including, but not limited to, poisonous gases like Hydrogen Sulphide, Carbon Monoxide, Methane, and gasoline vapours through detection tests 
  • Regular vaccination against respiratory and skin diseases and other occupational diseases should be administered to the workers
  • The cleaning of a sewer or septic tank should be done only in daylight and for a duration of not exceeding 90 minutes at a stretch. A mandatory interval of 30 minutes between two stretches should be given 
  • Operating and rescue procedures should be displayed at the entry site
  • At least one person trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be immediately available during any confined space job
  • A State level and district level survey committees should be constituted
  • The local authority should constitute a committee under its executive authority with at least two members from the community of sanitary workers, one of whom should be a woman, and at least one member from the civil society groups 

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