Study examines workplace safety issues in recycling industry

Health and safety issues for people working in the recycling industry in Texas and around the country are under increased scrutiny. From 2011 to 2013, 17 people died while doing recycling work in the United States. Statistics show that injuries happened to recycling workers twice as frequently as injuries to the average worker. According to new research, the dangers faced by recycling workers is significant.


The study was conducted by the University of Illinois School of Public Health researchers who collaborated with private sector experts. The goal was to highlight how dangerous the work is and to find ways to improve the safety to prevent worker injury and death. Understanding the dangers can assist in finding ways to recommend new policies to ensure workplace safety.


The report found that workers being exposed to hazardous materials and dangerous work situations with large machinery contributed to the injuries and deaths. It also found that a large number of the workers were temporary and were not apprised of their rights under federal safety regulations. Former workers have stated that they found dangerous items that people had discarded for recycling. Hypodermic needles and shattered glass are two examples.


The researchers recommended that government agencies take a look at the records of the companies and have them take more precautions, stop the use of temporary employees and educate their communities as to what should and should not be recycled. While recycling is providing jobs and improving the environment, it is still causing unnecessary risk to workers. Those who have been injured or lost a loved one due to lax workplace safety protocols at a recycling facility may want to discuss the matter with an attorney in order to determine if there are ways to obtain compensation for the losses sustained.

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