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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Recycling Workers And Safety

Recycling workers have over twice the injury rate of all industry. How and what we recycle can make their job safer. Hear how you can help at work and home.

Employees at a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) face conveyor belts full of sharps, biohazards, chemicals and more. In this podcast, Dan Clark synopsizes the report from National COSH on how companies and individuals can make their jobs safer.

What we put in our industrial or home recycling bins can make a difference.


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Dan Clark: Recycling: Good for the planet, dangerous for workers. Hear about the hazards and how your business can help that worker in a faraway sorting center stay safer.

Hi, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites, compliments of Creative Safety Supply.

Recycling_Workers_And_Safety-Creative_Safety_Supply-350x197Recycling workers have over double the injury rate as all industry. We, as businesses and consumers, can help keep them safe by WHAT and THE WAY we recycle.


Well, when people toss empty containers, paper, aluminum cans and other recyclables into a bin, there’s a person on the other end who sorts those things, not just a machine. Mixed in with recyclables are dangerous things like used needles, chemicals, biohazards which includes food waste and even dead animals. Yes, animals crawl into bins for a snack and sometimes get stuck.

Workers sort and separate these goodies from the conveyor belt. While working they’re exposed to these hazards:

• Struck-by vehicles or bales of materials
• Moving machinery, including conveyor belts
• Awkward postures, often for extended periods
• Exposure to extreme temperatures
• Respiratory hazards, including dust which is a constant problem
• Excessive noise
• Slips, trips and falls
• Stress, often related to quotas or line speed

All of this information comes from a recent report from National COSH, The National Council For Occupational Safety And Health and other agencies.


In a 2013 survey of recycling workers, 70 percent reported an illness or injury related to job exposures. In 2012, the injury rate per 100 workers at a recycling center was 8.5. The rate for all industry was 3.5.


• Follow local instructions for what can go and what can’t go in the recycling bin. Workers will do less reaching when they don’t have to snag the non-recyclables off the belt.

• Never put dangerous materials in a recycling bin. Needles, broken glass from light bulbs and other sharps can injure workers.

• Don’t put plastic bags in a recycling bin unless it’s explicitly allowed in your area. These bags are responsible for a large number of machine jams, and clearing the jams has led to worker injuries in the past.

That’s all for this episode, Recycling Workers And Safety. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10 percent off your entire order at with coupon code BIG10.


top image © ℗ 2015 National Council For Occupational Safety And Health; images in transcript provided by Wikipedia / Ireland4me

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