Ensuring the health and safety of environmental frontliners, particularly garbage collectors and estero rangers, is a must among local government units (LGUs) amid the continuing threat of COVID-19.

This was according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which recently conducted a webinar among environment officers of various LGUs in Metro Manila on the proper handling of solid and hazardous wastes during the pandemic.

“Environment workers, particularly garbage collectors, have been classified as essential workers as they work tirelessly to help protect public health and contain the spread of the virus by disposing of everything from household to health care wastes,” said DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGUs Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

The webinar, conducted by the DENR-National Capital Region (NCR) last Sept. 9 via Zoom, aimed to capacitate Metro Manila LGUs with adequate knowledge and skills to keep environment workers healthy and safe while performing their duties during the pandemic.

“This initiative by the DENR-NCR office is a welcome effort to make sure that we can inform the public about how to properly sanitize and disinfect our surroundings, especially during this time of a health crisis when cleanliness is a must to protect everyone from the virus,” Antiporda said.

DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline Caancan said it was vital for environment workers to be fully aware of the safety and health risks involved as they continue to perform their duties during the pandemic.

“Through the webinar, we were able to inform our environment officers of the safety protocols they must observe to reduce their exposure to deadly viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens,” Caancan said.

During the webinar, resource person Engr. Jean Borromeo talked about the various protocols to ensure the safety of environment workers while doing their jobs amid COVID-19.
Borromeo, the officer-in-charge at the Environmental Monitoring and Enforcement Division of the Environmental Management Bureau-NCR, said the wearing of complete personal protective equipment (PPEs) is truly important for garbage collectors, estero rangers and those assigned to take water samples from waterways.

“It is very important that we wear complete set of PPEs during fieldwork as we may be exposed to the virus via dust or contaminated wastewater and surface water,” Borromeo pointed out.##