The risks generated by waste collection


The risks generated by waste collection and sorting activities are numerous.

The tonnage of waste to be treated is constantly increasing; as a result, the workforce in this sector is growing correspondingly and the industrial accidents affecting these trades too: risks linked to the dangerousness of the waste (biological and chemical), to the vehicles used for collection and transport (handling, road risk), to sorting procedures implemented (manual operations, exposure to noise, gases and dust, etc.).

Prevention must be implemented and adapted to specialized channels depending on the type of waste (household, industrial, medical, etc.) and the nature of the work to be carried out (collect, sort, etc.).

The main risks of waste collection and sorting

Some risks are common to all waste management professions, with more or less dangerousness depending on the type of operation and waste. In this regard, a fundamental element of prevention is as complete information as possible on the nature, composition and dangerousness of the waste to all the actors concerned.

  • Physical risks: bruises, falls, cuts, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) linked to repetitive and rapid handling or gestures, vibrations, etc.
  • Biological risks: contamination by skin wounds and bites due to exposure to microorganisms, inhalation of dust and infectious or allergenic agents. (Table 45 GR of Occupational Diseases: Infections of occupational origin with hepatitis viruses)
  • Chemical risks: skin contact with corrosive, irritant, toxic, carcinogenic products, treatments that can generate exposure to gases and dust
  • Noise risks linked to sorting machines: vibrating tables, conveyors, screens, compressors, balers, motors for feeding the sorting chain …
  • Household waste and inert or ordinary industrial waste (DIB) obviously involve less biological or chemical risks than special industrial waste (DIS) including radioactive waste, healthcare waste, laboratory and chemical industry waste which contains elements dangerous and must undergo specific routing and disposal.

For the garbage collectors employed with the collection of refuse, the contusions with the lower limbs and shocks with a moving vehicle are particularly frequent, as well as the falls while going up or down vehicles and refuse trucks. The constant handling of heavy and bulky loads (trash cans or plastic bags) leads to severe postural constraints.

In sorting centers, if the loads lifted are much lower, the rates are very high; these manual handling are sources of MSD (body rotation…) and of visual and mental fatigue (thankless tasks). Manual sorting involves two major risks: muscle damage linked to handling and contamination by cuts and stings.

Risk prevention measures for waste collection and sorting

The prevention measures will vary and must be adapted to the type of work and waste, the organization (just-in-time work, “finished-part” practice, etc.) or the procedures used. In all cases, an a priori risk assessment is essential and compulsory in the single safety document, updated at least annually as well as during any major planning decision modifying health and safety conditions or working conditions (new installation, new process or new organization).

Waste management and the prevention of induced risks impose obligations on its producer / holder, the non-compliance of which can lead to serious civil and criminal sanctions. Its responsibility is engaged in the event of industrial accidents, pollution or even the risk of pollution.

The waste producer must establish and make available information on the composition of the waste and must verify that:

  • Abduction: the collector to whom he calls declared his activity in the prefecture.
  • Treatment: takes place in facilities classified for the environment.
  • Traceability: the waste tracking register is kept up to date and a monitoring slip is drawn up. For waste identified as hazardous, it is one of the elements to be supplied and which will follow the waste throughout its elimination or treatment circuit (BSD).

Prevention of waste collection risks

According to Jacksonville dumpsters and other waste management specialists in Floria and the USA, waste collection and transport are activities that require special qualifications and specializations, in order to guarantee the safety and quality of waste transport. Professionals must be trained, qualified and have adequate personal protective equipment. Vehicles (dumpsters with household waste…) must be authorized and well maintained. A judicious organization of tour plans also makes it possible to significantly limit the risks.

Collection vehicles ensuring the safety of personnel: CE declaration, rear view mirror, start signal and reversing audible warning, vehicle signaling (rotating beacons, service lights, clearance lights), non-slip handles and steps, transparent casings and cheeks to protect agents of moving parts and projections, daily cleaning, pollution control and mechanical safety (brakes, shredders, compaction system), verification of the proper functioning of emergency stops, of the rear door locking device, etc.

Ergonomic containers, emptied and cleaned frequently: replace trash cans and bags with closed wheeled containers (individual or collective bins), collect refuse as often as possible to avoid the multiplication of microorganisms in the containers, keep the containers in good condition (bearings) and placed on a stable platform for groups to facilitate handling.

Route plans and safe behaviors: eliminate the need for reverse gear by setting up U-turn zones if necessary, use the side lift controls on the sidewalk (bilateral collections involve crossing dangerous roads), no alcoholic beverages, no practice “on the leave” or “finished party” consisting in leaving the service as soon as the tour is finished, which causes accidents by increasing rates and precipitation.

Obligatory personal protective equipment, standardized and worn throughout the tour: clothing adapted to the season and climatic conditions for outdoor work, safety shoes with non-slip soles, handling gloves, high visibility signaling clothing of class 2 or 3 in accordance with the specifications of standard NF EN 471, glasses.

Work hygiene premises: changing rooms with sanitary facilities and showers, individual double-compartment cupboards for storing personal clothes and work clothes. In addition, staff must have a supply of water, a disinfectant, paper towels and an emergency kit in the dumpsters.

Training or information: safety on public roads, PRAP (Prevention of Risks linked to Physical Activity), information on the risks of biological agents and on body and hand hygiene.

Reinforced medical surveillance must be put in place for waste collection staff, with recommended vaccination DTPolio, hepatitis A and B (in particular for hospital waste) and leptospirosis.

Prevention of waste sorting risks

Ergonomics and work organization: sorting operations on a conveyor belt and throwing them into a bin, involve very many rapid and repetitive gestures with body rotation and lateral movement: the ergonomics of the installations are essential to reduce the arduous nature of the work (for example, bringing the grip closer to avoid a leaning posture) and preventing the onset of musculoskeletal disorders, as well as accessories such as “sit-stand” seats and anti-fatigue mats. The establishment of a worker rotation system that takes into account the direction of arrival of waste on the conveyor allows gestures and postures to be varied.

Good ventilation in the workplace makes it possible to avoid the inhalation of dust and microorganisms and to avoid the appearance of pneumonia, ENT irritation and chronic bronchitis.

Reduce noise pollution (trommel screen, conveyors, etc.) at source by enclosure, sound and thermal insulation of the machine cabin from the rest of the center, soundproofing coatings on the chutes, regular lubrication and greasing of the machines, etc.

Wearing personal protective equipment corresponding to the exhibitions and activities: suitable clothing and shoes and washed regularly (disposable overalls must be available to carry out messy work or maintenance and cleaning tasks, or in the event of heavy accidental soiling) , gloves with chemical resistance, anti-cut, able to protect both the forearms and the hands, protective glasses, hearing protectors and respiratory mask if necessary.

Workplace hygiene: regularly clean contaminated floors and equipment, especially indoors, set up an effective pest control, install an eye wash fountain, shower after work.

The training concerns accidental and infectious risks, handling, wearing personal protection.