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: 1.74). 10/2010; 53(10):1040-64. DOI: 10.1002/ajim.20870
Source: PubMed


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.

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    • "olid waste management refers to a variety of activities related to the supervised handling of waste material from generation at the source through the recovery process to final disposal [1]. Municipal solid waste collectors are occupationally exposed to a broad spectrum of occupational hazards [2] [3]. However, it has been observed that waste collectors are characterized by higher level of labor accidents in comparison to the total workforce [4]. "
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    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.
    • "There is moderate evidence that waste collectors are at increased risk of developing respiratory complaints (Kuijer et al. 2010), e.g., bronchitis. Even though our statistical analyses were limited by the number of subjects, we found evidence for an association of cough and CB with the duration of employment. "
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    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 · 1.96 Impact Factor
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    • "Municipal solid waste workers (MSWWs) or refuse collectors, universally expose to many work related health hazards and safety risks, notably allergic and other diseases of the respiratory system. Health impacts could also entail musculoskeletal, gastro-intestinal and infectious diseases as well as injuries caused by work-related accidents.[12345] Communal wastes comprise organic dust and bio-aerosol stuffed with micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses and fungi), endotoxins, and various toxic organic and inorganic chemicals that are aggravated in leachate resulting from a sanitary landfill.[678] "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Solid waste management has emerged as an important human and environmental health issue. Municipal solid waste workers (MSWWs) are potentially exposed to a variety of occupational biohazards and safety risks. The aim of this study was to describe health practices and safety measures adopted by workers in the main municipal company in Alexandria (Egypt) as well as the pattern of the encountered work related ill health. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between January and April 2013. We interviewed and evaluated 346 workers serving in about 15 different solid waste management activities regarding personal hygiene, the practice of security and health care measures and the impact of solid waste management. Results: Poor personal hygiene and self-care, inadequate protective and safety measures for potentially hazardous exposure were described. Impact of solid waste management on health of MSWWs entailed high prevalence of gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin and musculoskeletal morbidities. Occurrence of accidents and needle stick injuries amounted to 46.5% and 32.7% respectively. The risk of work related health disorders was notably higher among workers directly exposed to solid waste when compared by a group of low exposure potential particularly for diarrhea (odds ratio [OR] = 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2-3.8), vomiting (OR = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.1-6.6), abdominal colic (OR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.1-3.2), dysentery (OR = 3.6, 95% CI = 1.3-10), dyspepsia (OR = 1.8, 95% CI = 1.1-3), low back/sciatic pain (OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.8-7), tinnitus (OR = 6.2, 95% CI = 0.3-122) and needle stick injury (OR = 3.4, 95% CI = 2.1-5.5). Conclusions: Workers exposed to solid waste exhibit significant increase in risk of ill health. Physician role and health education could be the key to assure the MSWWs health safety.
    International journal of preventive medicine 05/2014; 5(5):545-56.
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