According to the Health & Safety Executive publication ‘Safe waste and recycling collection services’, the largest proportion of waste and recycling industry accidents at work are accounted for by activities within collection services.
Claims for rubbish collectors
Potential risks likely to result in work accidents warranting claims for rubbish collectors include:
- Route or location-specific hazards
- Manual handling risks
- Vehicle-related risks
- Exposure to excessive noise
- Exposure to potentially harmful substances or injury by sharps
- Slips, trips and falls
Route or location-specific hazards
These hazards may be permanent, variable, occasional or unpredictable. Permanent hazards may consist of:
- Blind bends, overhead obstructions or concealed entrances
- Steps or stairways
- Poor or loose surfaces
- Poor lighting
- Single or double-sided collection
- Widths of roads
- Adverse cambers and inclines
- Structures reducing visibility
Variable or occasional hazards may include:
- High-risk pedestrian areas (community centres, schools, etc.)
- Rush hour traffic (speed and usage of roads)
- Working on or crossing highways
- Road works
- Parked vehicles
- Violence towards collectors or aggressive dogs
Unpredictable hazards include:
- High winds, rain or mud
- Snow and ice
- Local floods
- Poor visibility due to fog
Manual handling risks
Manual handling accidents resulting in claims for rubbish collectors may be caused by collectors incorrectly lifting or attempting to lift excessive loads.
Mechanical breakdowns or failure of safety-related features on vehicles can also be responsible for work-related injuries leading to claims for rubbish collectors.
Noise, harmful substances and sharps
Exposure to excessive noise (especially during glass collections), harmful substances (including, among others, rotting food, faeces, blood-contaminated materials and/or a variety of household chemicals) and sharps (broken glass, needles, knives or fragments of metal, for instance) represent both health hazards and risks of accidental injuries to rubbish collectors.
Employers and the law
Health and safety laws require employers to assess all potential risks to employees and take the necessary steps to prevent collectors from being injured at work. This includes:
- Providing training in correct manual handling procedures
- Ensuring collection crews and drivers have the ability to deal with changing conditions
- Providing personal protective equipment (ear protectors, gloves, high-visibility vests, protective boots, etc.)
- Keeping vehicles and safety equipment in good working order
Information on route-specific risks and how to deal with them must also be provided.
Accident Advice Helpline
If you were injured while collecting rubbish because your employer failed to protect you, you could be entitled to industrial injury compensation. Call us on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 (from your mobile) now to learn more.
Date Published: December 9, 2015
Author: David Brown