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Employers Have a Long Way to Go in Preventing Recycling Workers’ Injuries and Deaths

While recycling is critical to helping us preserve the environment, it remains an incredibly dangerous industry for the recycling workers who sort through and recycle our garbage. They can die from being crushed by falling recycling materials or in machinery, have body parts amputated when working with dangerous machines, and suffer serious occupational illnesses from exposure to toxic gases and materials in the air and in the trash they sort. Sadly, many of these tragedies are preventable.

5 Ways to Prevent Recycling Workers’ Injuries on the Job

Employers have a duty to provide a safe environment for employees in recycling plants. Ways they could prevent injuries and workers’ compensation claims include:

  • Using more permanent workers. Unlike the sanitation industry, the recycling industry relies on temporary, untrained workers. Employers need to hire more permanent workers and ensure that all employees are properly trained in the hazards of their job.
  • Eliminating hazards in the air. Employers could reduce dust and mold from getting into the air by installing misters and a good exhaust ventilation system. Employers also need to provide proper respirators, implement a plan on handling hazardous chemicals, and keep trucks out of indoor work areas.
  • Preventing ergonomic injuries. Employers can reduce injuries caused by repetitive and awkward motions by designing work stations to allow for standing and sitting, rotating jobs, allowing workers to take breaks, and limiting the need for lifting and carrying objects—especially ones that are too heavy.
  • Eliminating contact with needles and blood. Only trained supervisors and employees should handle sharp needles and blood. They should be provided with puncture-free gloves and tools to pick up the needles. All workers need to be trained in what to do if they come in contact with these hazards.
  • Reducing machinery accidents. Machinery should have guards on them to prevent workers’ hands and clothing from getting near the machinery’s moving parts. Emergency stops should be within three feet of each station.

Until employers are more safety conscious, worker accidents will continue to occur. If you are a recycling worker injured on the job, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits while you are healing. Start an online chat to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your legal rights and how I can help you.


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