THE Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Health Department has intensified efforts to control the rat population in the Bukit Gasing area.
However, the council’s Health Department seems to have neglected providing protective gear to workers who mix the rat bait.
Workers have been seen placing the rodenticide in drains, rat holes and back lanes of wet market areas without wearing masks and gloves.
Petaling Jaya councillor Ariffin Mahaiyuddin highlighted this at the closed-door Trade Control and Health sub-committee meeting recently.
He said the workers were putting their health at risk by breathing in the fine-dust particles.
StarMetro observed that the workers were using ordinary latex gloves instead of industrial rubber gloves.
The powdered rat bait was also seen scattered in the council’s van despite the fact that a notice on the packaging said it was harmful to humans and could cause haemorrhaging.
Ariffin recommended that MBPJ’s Health Department switch to liquid poison to minimise the risk of inhalation.
Councillor Suriase Gengiah said workers’ safety must not be compromised in efforts to prevent leptospirosis.
“Protective disposable overalls must be provided for workers exposed to hazardous situations.
“MBPJ must provide high grade masks to ensure workers do not inhale dangerous chemicals.
“Compulsory health checks should be mandatory for those in high-risk jobs,” he said.
MBPJ Health and Environment Department (Public Health) I deputy director Dr Abdul Ghalib Sulaiman said the department had made available protective clothing for workers but some choose not to wear them.
“All workers, even those in charge of killing weeds and fogging, will be required to wear protective gear,” he said.
Selangor Environment Association (Workers Safety Committee) president M. Varatharajoo said the workers should go through periodic health screening.
“The Amalgamated National Union of Local Authority Employees (Anulae) must ensure that the state government provides an allowance to those doing high-risk jobs,” he said.
MBPJ public relations officer Zainun Zakaria said the rat problem was serious at wet markets and food courts.
“Most of the drains behind restaurants off Jalan Gasing, Section 17 and PJ Old Town food courts are choked with food waste and other types of rubbish,” she said.
Leptospirosis, which is transmitted through rat urine, can be deadly and was classified as a notifiable disease on Dec 9, 2010, under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.
Bukit Gasing assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran is collaborating with MBPJ’s Health Department in a rat catching campaign until March 31.
RM3 is paid out for each rodent caught.
Until Feb 29, a total 1,534 rats were caught and RM4,602 paid out.