Recycling is critical for preserving our environment, and this industry is rapidly growly as people become more educated about the importance of recycling. However, as the list of items that can be recycled grows, so does the risk of serious injuries or illnesses for recycling workers.

Six Dangerous Materials That Cause Worker Injuries and Illnesses

Employees in the recycling industry face many of the same risks of workplace accidents as factory and construction workers, such as forklift accidents, being caught in moving machinery parts, falling from heights, and slip, fall, and trip accidents. However, the materials they must handle also pose dangers. Common materials they may be exposed to include:

  • Scrap metal. Crews working with scrap metal can suffer lead poisoning, skin disorders, respiratory illnesses due to inhalation or contact with toxic substances, and disorders from repeated trauma.
  • Consumer electronics. When recycling electronic items such as televisions, computers, and appliances, workers can be exposed to harmful chemicals such as refrigerants, PCBs, mercury, asbestos, and even radioactive materials, causing them to suffer serious injuries and illnesses.
  • Organic materials. Composting facilities can be extremely dangerous for workers in confined areas when they must breathe in hazardous gases like hydrogen sulfide or carbon monoxide, resulting in suffering serious respiratory problems.
  • Batteries. Recycling employees can be exposed to lead leeching out of batteries and through inhaling lead particles that can become airborne.
  • Paper. While paper may sound harmless, many workers suffer serious injuries or death from being crushed by improperly stacked or combustible materials.
  • Used oil and chemicals. When oil or other dangerous chemicals are blended or otherwise prepared for reuse, recycling workers can suffer respiratory problems from exposure to these toxic chemicals and life-threatening burns from explosions if incompatible chemicals are mixed together.

Recycling workers are often poorly paid and frequently live from paycheck to paycheck. They can least afford to pay expensive medical bills and be off work while they recover from serious injuries or occupational illnesses they risk on the job. However, they could be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages under New Jersey workers’ compensation.

If you are a recycling worker injured on the job, you need to contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible to not miss the deadline to pursue your workers’ comp claim.  I have been dedicated to helping many people just like you for over 20 years. Call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your legal options.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer