According to a study done in collaboration with the University of Illinois School of Public Health, recycling workers face unnecessarily safety risks at work. From 2011 to 2013, 17 recycling workers died around the country, and on average, they are twice as likely as other workers to suffer an injury on the job. The study found that workers in this field contend with safety issues related to the use of heavy machinery. They are also likely to interact with toxic chemicals and hypodermic needles.
One problem highlighted by the study was that many workers in the field are temporary workers. As such, they are less likely to understand their rights and may have fewer protections than full-time workers may have. Therefore, one of the recommendations made by researchers was to eliminate temporary workers to ensure a safer working environment.
Furthermore, it was recommended that a citizen education program be put into place to help residents understand what was safe to recycle and what is not safe to recycle. Strong education programs could reduce or eliminate dangerous items from entering the recycling system. Finally, it was proposed that city governments check the backgrounds of recycling companies in their jurisdiction and require that they have a comprehensive worker safety program.
People who suffer workplace injuries may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can include the provision of necessary medical care and treatment as well as a percentage of wages lost during the recovery and rehabilitation periods should the employee be unable to return to work. Employers or their insurers, however, will sometimes dispute a claim, and in such a case, an attorney who has experience in these matters may be able to help a claimant facing such an issue.