Download: Safe Recycling Report
Zero waste is the future. Growth in the recycling economy has the potential to not only conserve the environment, but also create 1.5 million new jobs. But research indicates that recycling work can be dangerous, with injury rates more than double the national average. By addressing this problem, local governments have an opportunity to secure the sustainability and health of their cities while ensuring that recycling jobs are good jobs. Recyclers deserve safe working conditions, as they protect public health and the planet from waste, pollution, and resource depletion.
Work related injuries and illnesses are multi-factorial and remain major problems of public health magnitude requiring the attention of all stakeholders in the solid waste industry. The objective of this article was to describe the patterns of occupational injury and illness (OIl) reporting incidence among workers in a major private U.S. solid waste management company. A five-year (2003-2007) retrospective review of the corporate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) logs 300/300Al30 I was conduct.ed and employee OIl reports (n = 1895) were analyzed from 37 establishments across 11 different states. The OIl reporting rates were compared to industry average.
Little has been written on the dangers of sanitation jobs. Yet indicators—including fatality rates for traffic accidents and anecdotal reports of numerous hazards in this field—show that there is an urgent need for further study on the occupational risks that are rampant in the waste industry. As a 2003 University of Miami report noted, garbage collection is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States.