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Ban Recycling Boxes to Save Binmen’s Backs Says Research

Ban Recycling Boxes to Save Binmen’s Backs Says Research

Ban Recycling Boxes to Save Binmen’s Backs Says Research

The fact we’re recycling more is great for the environment but not so great for binmen’s backs, according to research from the University of Greenwich and IOSH.

A survey of more than 200 refuse workers carried out over four years asked them whether the nature of modern bin collection had caused them any health problems. Not surprisingly, respondents said it had caused them to experience more lower back, shoulder, neck, and upper back injuries.

Increases in garden and food waste collection caused injuries

IOSH published research that found that incidences of pain from such injuries rose by 25% in 2014, after many local authorities expanded their garden waste and food waste collections.

Calls to ban recycling boxes

And the main culprit for causing injury?- the recycling box. While the research found that wheelie bins helped workers avoid injuries, boxes caused them because collecting them involves bending down and other awkward movements. Researchers called on councils to put an end to recycling box collections after the research confirmed links between awkward occupational postures such as bending, twisting, and lifting boxes, and lower back pain.

A measure that seemed to protect workers from injury was job task rotation where workers switch between collecting and driving, for example.

Binmen’s Backs

Councils need to protect their workforce

A member of IOSH’s Environmental and Waste Management Group Committee said that the findings provide councils with an opportunity to think about how they protect the health and welfare of their workforce. This is especially needed now, because many councils are dealing with an ageing workforce.

The IOSH Environmental & Waste Management Group Chair said that figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that around 70% of all workers in the Waste Management industry carry out household and commercial refuse collections, and 80% of the recorded injuries are caused by those collections.

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