Taking a serious note of the issue pertaining to women’s safety and security and their working conditions on highways, toll plazas, and other roads of the State, Haryana State Commission for women has written a letter to the State Chief Secretary and asked her to take necessary measures to improve their working conditions as well as ensuring their safety and security.
The Commission opined that since women workers are on the road and that too on highway, there is always a greater possibility or likelihood of accidents at Toll Plazas as well on roads.
The Commission recommended that adequate guards should be provided for the safety and security of women involved in cleaning the roads, especially the highways, all over the state of Haryana.
Vice-chairperson, Haryana State Commission for Women, Preeti Bhardwaj, who visited various highways of the state, observed that a large number of women labourers are employed on highways but they are deprived of basic amenities.
They are working in pathetic conditions. She observed that they are not secure while working on highways. "On highways, there is no safe water, food, congenial environment and coupled with rain, wind, plummeting temperatures and unsafe conditions, this may make them sick and many lose their lives as well," Bhardwaj observed.
Talking to The Pioneer, the vice- chairperson said that she had recently visited eastern and western peripheral highways and roads in the state. She came across many highway maintenance workers especially women workers and labourers working there in adverse conditions, scorching and intense heat and pre-monsoon showers.
Bhardwaj said that excessive workplace heat and rain is an occupational health hazard. Women workers complained to her of dehydration and heat exhaustion and sometimes heat stoke too.
The vice-chairperson said that it was found that two of them were on the verge of almost dehydration and most of them were middle aged or old, infirm and working as daily wagers and had to complete the given task of cleaning the sides of this peripheral highway road within a specific time limit. Importantly, except a neon jacket, no other safety equipment were provided to them.
She opined that certain actions are needed to protect women workers and provide them decent standards of work and livelihood and therefore in view of above and as per the powers conferred on this commission under section 10 (1) (a) (c) (f) of Haryana State Commission for Women Act 2012, has taken note of it.
She recommended authorities concerned for taking necessary steps at the earliest. Some of the recommendations are providing adequate guards for the safety and security of women involved in cleaning the roads, especially the highways.
They may be given full sleeves jackets with eye mask and rubber boots and better brooms with advancements in technology or replaced by vacuum machines.
Such women may be trained and made to learn and skill themselves in running such vacuum machines, Bhardwaj said, adding adequate and or alternate arrangements may be made to place such women elsewhere without compromising on security of their jobs as daily wager or outsources employees as the case may be.
She said there should be valid and specific insurance under which these workers whether men or women are covered in case of reckless accidents of which they may become a victim too.
Other important recommendations include low cost assured access to drinking water in workplaces, frequent rest breaks, addressing sanitation issues and management of output targets. Relevant directions may be issued to the concerned departments, she added.