How to work safe as a road/street sweeper

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Road/Street sweepers are everywhere in out towns and cities. Their duty is to keep our roads and streets clean and tidy.

Sweeping is defined by “Merriam Webster dictionary” as “to remove from a surface with a broom or brush”. This activity is necessary to keep our environment clean.

Sweeping is an activity carried out by everyone on daily basis.

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In some major cities in Nigeria, people are being employed to sweep the roads, and most of them do this in the early hours of the morning before daybreak.

These set of people are exposed to a lot of hazards while carrying out this responsibility.

This article is concerned with these set of people.



The major hazards they get exposed to include:


  • Reckless drivers on the road
  • Dust
  • Musculoskeletal hazards



We have a lot of reckless drivers on our road; drunks, some rough riders, others drive in the dark without good lighting, etc.

These entire acts pose a very high level of risk to these people who sweep the road in the early hours of the morning. Some of them has been killed, some maimed on the course carrying out their duty on the road.


  • Employers should design an induction exercise for all his employees on the job they are being employed to do. This induction should cover, the risk they will be exposed to, the safe way of doing their job (Not backing the direction of upcoming vehicles.), and the use of PPE (Personal protective equipment like the reflective vest, dust mask, Etc.)
  • The employers should provide the reflective vest, and also encourage the employees to use them. A good enforcement plan should be in place to ensure the employees use the reflective vest.



Dust is another major challenge to the street/road sweepers. Road dust consists of deposits of vehicle exhausts and industrial exhausts, particles from tire and brake wear, dust from paved roads or potholes, and dust from construction sites. Road dust is a significant source contributing to the generation and release of particulate matter into the atmosphere.

When they are exposed to dust Larger particles such as sand may become trapped in the nose and throat but can be expelled by coughing or sneezing.

Dust particles small enough to be inhaled may cause:

  • Irritation of the eyes
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Hayfever
  • Asthma attacks.

For people with respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD) or emphysema even small increases in dust concentration can make their symptoms worse.










  • Dust mask should be provided employers, and they should trained their employees on the correct way of use them. This will help reduce their exposure to road dust.



Frequent and repetitive activity has been found to be a contributive cause of musculoskeletal risk.

These results from certain muscles tightening up or shortening, while others lengthen and become weak.

This often occurs as a result of one’s daily activities.

It has been observed that are street/road sweepers engaged in poor positioning while sweeping which makes them prone to develop back pains, pains in joints and muscles.


The risk of developing musculoskeletal disorder increases with age.

Our muscles, bones, and joints naturally deteriorate as we get older.

This doesn’t mean that musculoskeletal disorders are inevitable.

By taking care of our body throughout adulthood, we can lower our risk of developing these disorders.

Tips on preventing musculoskeletal disorders:

  • Develop healthy lifestyle and habits; let us watch our diet.
  • Regular strengthening exercises and stretching can help keep our bones, joints, and muscles strong.
  • It’s also important to complete everyday activities in safe ways.
  • Maintain a tall posture to prevent back pain. Ensure your sweeping broom is tall enough so that you will not have to bend thereby keeping our back straight.
  • Be careful when picking up heavy objects.
  • Do not over strain one side of your body if you must work from an awkward posture. Change side intermittently
  • Try to keep repetitive motions to a minimum.
  • Ask your doctor for more information about how you can maintain a healthy musculoskeletal system and lower your risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

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