A study released by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health in collaboration with the University of Illinois has found recycling center workers are regularly exposed to safety hazards and have higher than average injury rates.
The report, titled Safe & Sustainable Recycling: Protecting Workers Who Protect the Planet, the recycling industry has high fatality and injury rates due to unsafe working conditions around heavy machinery and exposure to hazardous materials such as hypodermic needles, toxic chemicals and animal carcasses.
What Kinds Of Workplace Injuries Affect Recycling Workers?
Recycling workers who commented on the study claimed it is common to find broken glass and needles during the process of sorting recyclables. In some cases, needles puncture workers, putting them at high risk for developing a blood borne disease. Machines are a threat to recycling workers, who often remove debris that can jam up machinery responsible for sorting and processing materials.
Over the last four years, there have been numerous incidents where workers have been crushed by compactors or other large objects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that 17 recycling workers have been involved in fatal workplace accidents from 2011 to 2013. Additional workers have experienced workplace injuries requiring amputations.
Injuries can occur because of unsafe work environments provided by employers and lack of training. In many cases, recycling centers employ temporary workers contracted through temp agencies.
The report calls for increased monitoring and inspections of recycling centers in addition to restrictions on temp agencies.
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