A new study by environmental, occupational safety, and community benefits experts in collaboration with researchers at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, finds that recycling work is unnecessarily hazardous to workers' health and safety. Seventeen American recycling workers died on the job from 2011 to 2013. Recycling workers are more than twice as likely to be injured at work as the average worker.
By ensuring health and safety compliance across the industry, the study's authors say cities can create good and safe recycling jobs, and they offer concrete policy recommendations for cities.
Key findings from the report include:
- The industry's high injury and fatality rates are a result of unsafe working conditions around heavy machinery and exposure to hazardous items on the sort line, like hypodermic needles, toxic chemicals, and animal carcasses.
- Many waste and recycling companies rely heavily on temporary workers, who have fewer workplace protections and are less likely to be informed of their legal right to a safe and healthy workplace.