It depends very much on the type of waste involved but, in general, waste sorting is carried out by means of a mixture of mechanical processing and hand-picking. There is a risk of injury involved in both.
Over the five-year period from 2015/16 to 2019/20, 30% of the fatalities were caused when the victim came into contact with moving machinery. Another 30% of fatal injuries were caused by workers being struck by a moving vehicle.
Many of these accidents will have involved collisions between workers and mobile plant equipment, such as grabs or mechanical shovels. Others will have involved machines that were not properly guarded, or not properly isolated before maintenance was carried out.
Hand-picking, as a form of manual handling, also has its hazards. It can result in repetitive strain injuries, or other forms of musculoskeletal disorders. Where the process involves the removal of bulky or overweight objects, then back injury is a possibility – particularly if the worker has not been taught the proper lifting techniques.
Other hazards facing workers involved in sorting waste include:
Although it is not a national scheme, the Health and Occupation Research Network (THOR) runs a system known as EPIDERM to record cases of occupational skin disease. The scheme is comprised of a sample of consultant dermatologists who record cases they see at their clinics. While it is not possible to draw any national inference from the scheme as the results, the findings do appear to indicate that work-related skin disease is a problem in the waste sorting sector.
Of the occupation skin disease cases most recently recorded, 23 were contact dermatitis, 7 were neoplasia and all others were comprised of three different skin diseases.
According to the HSE, the most likely causes of these diseases were rubber and materials (33% of cases), non-ionising radiation (21%) and friction (21%).
Claim Compensation with Thompsons
If you or a loved one have suffered an illness or injury while at work, then you could be entitled to claim compensation. By claiming compensation you may also make it possible to receive an apology, recognition of your suffering and, crucially, may even help to prevent someone else becoming ill or injured in the same way.