Health and safety in waste collection: Towards evidence-based worker health surveillance.

Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
American Journal of Industrial Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.59). 10/2010; 53(10):1040-64. DOI: 10.1002/ajim.20870
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Waste collectors around the world are at risk for work-related disorders and injuries. The aim of this study was to assess work demands, acute physiologic responses, illnesses, and injuries as a starting point for worker health surveillance (WHS).
A systematic search was performed in PubMed and Embase on work demands, acute bodily responses, health, and injuries. A quality assessment and evidence synthesis was performed.
From a total of 379 retrieved studies, 50 studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Waste collecting varied from informal manual gathering to semi-automated systems. Most studies ("number of studies") on work demands and/or acute bodily responses addressed bioaerosols (14). Studies of health effects addressed respiratory complaints (8), and those on injuries addressed acute musculoskeletal disorders (3). Strong evidence is available that exposure to bioaerosols exceeds recommendations. Moderate evidence is available for an increased risk of respiratory complaints and musculoskeletal injuries, with significant odds ratios reported varying between 1.9-4.1 and 1.5-3.3, respectively. Limited evidence exists for gastrointestinal disorders and hearing loss.
WHS in waste collection is warranted for early detection of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal disorders, and hearing loss.

1 Follower
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Waste collectors may suffer from acute and chronic health effects caused by organic dust (bioaerosols). Pathophysiological symptoms may originate either from allergic or irritative pathomechanisms, but an explicit distinction of the etiology is often complicated although crucial for proper risk assessment and workplace prevention. In this cross-sectional study, a total of 69 male waste collectors from the Ruhr area in Germany underwent a customized testing protocol including a modified questionnaire, basic clinical examination, spirometry, and immunologic parameters. Subjects were classified according to their work tasks into loaders (n = 27), floaters (n = 29), and drivers (n = 13). We found that a high percentage of the workers had complaints (eyes 29.0 %, nose 39.1 %, and cough 34.8 %) which were strongly work-related. Multiple logistic regression analyses indicated that duration of employment in waste collection (per 10 years) was associated with an increased prevalence of cough (OR = 1.64, 95 %CI 0.81; 3.35) and chronic bronchitis (OR = 2.18, 95 %CI 0.80; 5.92). An association between rhinitis and cough (OR = 2.62, 95 %CI 0.94; 7.27) was found, which supports the association between the prevalence of upper and lower airway disease. Furthermore, when adjusting for smoking status, atopic subjects suffered more frequently from irritation of the lower airways as indicated by cough (OR = 2.71, 95 %CI 0.91; 8.08). In conclusion, the study demonstrates associations between the prevalence of upper and lower airway disease in waste collectors. Notably, an underlying allergic disease in waste collectors could be suspected more commonly than previously reported.
    Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 09/2014; DOI:10.1007/5584_2014_71 · 2.01 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The environmental hygiene sector is a high risk industry in terms of the public health and safety of employees. This study analyses the level of maturity of the occupational health and safety (OHS) management system in municipal waste companies in Italy. The results show that the training and involvement of employees and operational activities are the most developed aspects, while OHS policy and performance measurements need further improvement. Overall companies have a sufficiently developed level of maturity in terms of their OHS management system. An analysis of contextual factors reveals that organisational factors are more correlated with the OHS management system maturity level than external factors. Companies located in the south of Italy have a low level of maturity in terms of OHS management. Audits by public authorities exercise a punitive role and legislative pressure is not considered by all the companies as a key factor in OHS development.
    Safety Science 02/2015; 72:55–65. DOI:10.1016/j.ssci.2014.08.002 · 1.67 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is some evidence that municipal waste collectors are at risk of Hepatitis B virus infection (HBV). Published information on risk of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection among waste collectors is scant. We aimed to investigate the prevalence and possible risk factors of HBV and HCV infections among waste collectors in a municipality of the broader region of Attica, Greece. A cross-sectional sero-prevalence study was conducted in a municipality of the broader region of Attica, Greece. Fifty waste collectors participated in the study (response rate: 95%). The group of municipal waste collectors was compared to a convenient sample of white collar employees not exposed to waste (No 83). Waste collectors recorded a significantly higher prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection (anti-HBc positivity) in comparison to the reference group (15% vs. 2.5%, respectively; p .001). Waste collectors who reported frequent exposure to needle-stick injuries had higher risk of HBV infection (RR 8.28; 95% CI 1.076-63.79; p 0.033). Only one municipal waste collector was anti-HCV positive. Our study corroborates previous results of an increased prevalence of Hepatitis B infection among municipal waste collectors. In addition we found that needle stick injuries were associated with the risk of HBV infection. By contrast, HCV infection does not seem to represent a significant occupational hazard among waste collectors. Vaccination against HBV among municipal solid waste collectors and promotion and use of safer methods for the collection of non-hospital medical waste could represent potential measures for the prevention of Hepatitis B Virus infection among municipal waste collectors.

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 27, 2014