Indian Journal of Health Social Work
SANITATION: AN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH HAZARD AMONG LOCO-PILOTS IN MALDA
DIVISION OF EASTERN RAILWAY
Ushnish Guha1, Indranil Sarkar2, Debotosh Sinha3
1Research Scholar, Department of Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan, 2Ph.D., Department of
Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan, 3Professor, Department of Social Work, Visva-Bharati,
Correspondence: Ushnish Guha, email: email@example.com
Background: Occupational Health and Safety is among those areas within health which has
been constant concern but specific and limited focus has been provided only in the wake of
accidents and disasters. There is a dynamic within the specific domain that informal sector
concerns are prioritized and rightfully so but that does not translate to the absence in other
sectors. Transportation has an interplay of both informal and formal sector concerns of workers.
Loco-Pilots are an important component of rail transportation, in the formal sector and essential
to the operational functioning of Indian Railways. Aim: This paper tries to understand the
availability and accessibility of restrooms of loco-pilots who are on-duty functioning as part of
their occupational requirement. Methodology: The study was conducted in the Malda Division
and data was collected through questionnaire and interviews for quantitative and qualitative
respectively. The study was a small sample study wherein the universe was 24 and 18 respondents
responded to the questionnaire and 8 interviews were conducted. Results and Conclusion:
The study resulted in thematic findings that Locomotive Cabs do not have the availability of inbuilt Restrooms due to which Loco-Pilots miss a major health and sanitation component in their
immediate occupational setting and environment. The accessibility of restrooms is a concern
because there is limited source of restrooms which they can use and, they cannot afford to use
restrooms because there is limited halt time unless it is a major halt. This trivecta of problems
directly affects their health considering the factors of age, probability of bladder control and
associated risk of disease.
Keywords: Occupational Hazard, Sanitation, Availability, Accessibility
Railways are important transportation systems, enabling the movement of people and goods efficiently across vast distances. The functioning of trains requires a dedicated workforce, including locomotive pilots, who operate the locomotives to help keep the traffic moving. These pilots, commonly known as train drivers, play a critical role in ensuring the safe travel of passengers and cargo. However, locomotive pilots face various challenges including sanitation hazards, which SANITATION: AN OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH HAZARD AMONG LOCO-PILOTS IN MALDA DIVISION OF EASTERN RAILWAY Ushnish Guha1 , Indranil Sarkar2 , Debotosh Sinha3 1Research Scholar, Department of Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan, 2Ph.D., Department of Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan, 3Professor, Department of Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan Correspondence: Ushnish Guha, email: firstname.lastname@example.org can significantly impact their health and overall well-being. This article aims to shed light on the sanitation hazards faced by locomotive pilots in railways. India boasts one of the world’s largest and busiest railway networks, connecting diverse regions and facilitating the movement of millions of people, essential and valuable cargo daily through passenger and freight (goods) trains. The Loco-Pilot was earlier used to refer to the occupation in the railwayswhen there was a colonial context but gradually with time there has been a change from loco-man (who used to operate the then steam powered locomotive) to loco-pilot which is a designation in the contemporary context. The conceptual understanding that needs to be encompassed here that it is a designation which needs to be reached through promotion through the years of service and experience. This further must be conceptualized with age of joining the job and the age of becoming a loco-pilot are completely different. The operational clarity can be obtained if it is argued that the loco-pilot is a senior career designation. The literature generates thematic insights about the problems that locomotive pilots face while operating shift duty. One of the main challenges locomotive pilots’ encounters is the limited access to restroom facilities during their journeys. Trains often run for extended periods, and pilots may not have easy access to restrooms during long-distance trips. This can lead to discomfort, inconvenience, and even health issues, as pilots may have to hold their urge to use the restroom for extended periods. Restrooms are available on trains but not in locomotive cabs and the cleanliness and hygiene of these facilities can be a significant concern. (Ranjan & Prasad, 2013) Due to the constant movement of trains and limited resources for maintenance, restrooms may not always be adequately cleaned and sanitized. Unsanitary conditions can expose pilots to health risks and contribute to the spread of infectious diseases. An example from the functional practice would be that in Indian Railways, immediately attached behind locomotive is a guard cum parcel cum brake van which has an in-built restroom but it can be entered through and often it is not clean because it is locked when the guard is not functioning from there. Further, the disposal of waste generated during train journeys can pose sanitation hazards. With limited options for proper waste disposal on trains, waste can accumulate, causing foul odour and unhygienic conditions within the locomotive cabins. The gaps in the existing literature that the in-depth explanation of the challenges and the integrative and interdependent conceptualization of availability and accessibility create a scope for research which this paper wants to discuss and address.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The research design of this study was mixed method, exploratory and descriptive by nature. The quantitative data was collected through questionnaire and qualitative data was collected through in-depth interview. The site for data collection was Malda Division Headquarters which is beside Malda Town railway station, Malda District, West Bengal. The necessary permissions were taken from the authorities and the Combined Crew Lobby Malda Town (CCL/MLDT) and Crew Running Room, Malda Town were visited to collect qualitative data. The universe of the study was 24 because the data obtained that there were 24 loco-pilots in Malda Division. The sampling was simple random and purposive for quantitative and qualitative respectively. The number of participants in the study were 18 and 8 for quantitative and qualitative respectively. The study was conducted with the ethical consideration consisting of informed consent and anonymity since respondent were identifying problems and lack of redressal which were the shortcoming of the management.
The availability of restroom in the locomotive cabs is not present. The results displayed are that all 18 respondents who have responded mention that there is no restroom. The implication is that loco-pilots do not have restroom in their immediate occupational space or setting where they can urinate and/ or defecate. The absence of restroom implies that locopilots do need to access restrooms even if it not be in the immediate occupational space or setting. The understanding of accessibility of the restrooms is essential
The results from the above table depict, 11 respondents mentioned that Others under Access and No Sufficiency of Halt Time, 4 respondents mentioned Restroom at Station under Access and No in Sufficiency of Halt Time, and 2 respondents mentioned using Restroom in Train under Access and No in Sufficiency of Halt Time. There was only 1 respondent who mentioned Restroom in Train under Access and Sometimes in Sufficiency of Halt Time. The insight from this stands that respondent mainly mentioned Other and on qualitative inquiry the conceptual understanding was generated that accessing restroom (urinal and toilet for the specific purposes) was not possible at all stations thus most respondents mentioned Other. The respondents provide the insight that how only at Major Halt (halt time of 10 minutes and
Table 3: Cleanliness of Restroom
The presence and accessibility of restroom is the infrastructural and technical by nature but there is another major factor which tends to affect the socio-behavioural component of individuals and that is cleanliness. The data displayed in the above table directly provides the insight that 16 out 18 respondents believed Train Restrooms were not cleaned and sanitized properly while they are on shift-duty, and the remaining 2 respondents believed sometimes Train Restrooms were cleaned and sanitized. The qualitative enquiry revealed a thematic finding that even locomotive pilots would manage till the major halt than use train toilet in the general compartment at a minor halt. This also has implications to
Furthermore, from the table above it can be interpreted that there is moderate positive correlation between the variables of halt time sufficient and train restrooms clean with a coefficient of .686 and significant at 0.01 level.
Ranjan, R., & Prasad, T. (2013). An Analytical Study on Working Conditions of Loco- Pilots (Railway Drivers) in India. European Journal of Business and Management, 5(12), 1-12. https:// www.liste.org/Journals/index.php/ EJBM/article/view/5811/5878 Ranjan, R., & Prasad, T. (2014, August). Working-Conditions, Stress and Their Outcomes: A Review Study among Loco-Pilots (Railway Drivers) in India. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IOSR-JHSS), 19(8), 93-101. http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr- jhss/papers/Vol19-issue8/Version-1/ M0198193101.pdf Srinivas, T., & Reddy, M. V. (2013). The Human Intervention in Train Safety on Indian Railways. 23rd International Railway Safety Conference, (p. 18). Vancouver. https://international- railway-safety-council.com/wp- content/uploads/2017/09/srinivas- reddy-the-human-intervention-in-train-safety-on-indian-railways.pdf Tripathi, D. P. (2013). High Power Committee on Duty Hours and Safety of Running Staff. Ministry of Railways, Railway Board. New Delhi: Government of India. Retrieved from https:// indianrailways.gov.in/railwayboard/ uploads/directorate/sbec/ hpc_report_2.pdf Twelfth Report Standing Committee on Railways Sixteenth Lok Sabha. (2017). Ministry of Railways, Railway Board. New Delhi: LOK SABHA Secretariat. Retrieved from https:// www.eparlib.nic.in/bitstream/ 123456789/65764/1/ 1 6 _ R a i l w a y s _ 1 2 . p d f Acknowledgement: The authorities of Malda Division, Eastern Railway who were instrumental in the process of the study. The respondents whose interest, enthusiasm, and insights helped.
Conflict of interest: None Role of funding source: None