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Waste handling at Swedish recycling centres: work environment and risks
Linköping University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Ergonomics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology. Linköping University, Department of Department of Health and Society, Division of Physiotherapy. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2006 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The amount of household waste generated in Sweden is increasing. Not many years ago, a majority of this was landfilled. Today, 95% of Swedish household waste is either incinerated with energy recovery, material recycled, or biologically treated. This adaptation process has resulted in new employment opportunities, where the overall focus in general has been on external environmental targets, rather than prioritising the work environment.

In Sweden, the importance of staffed recycling centres for collection and initial sorting of mainly large-sized and hazardous waste, as well as electrical and electronic waste, has increased during the last few years. There are approximately 700 recycling centres in Sweden. Recycling centres constitute a relatively new area within the emerging recycling sector, which might lead to new and unknown work environment problems. Previous research concerning the work environment at Swedish recycling centres and their international equivalents is very limited.

The aim of this thesis was to contribute to usable and applicable knowledge about Swedish recycling centres, focusing on work environment and risks. The thesis is mainly based on three studies, which used different methods to identify and analyse risks in the work environment and occupational accidents that occur at recycling centres.

It is concluded that employees at recycling centres are very frequently exposed to occupational accidents, a majority of which are associated with manual material handling. In addition, accidents are under-reported to a high degree, which implies reduced opportunities for preventing similar accidents in the future. The recycling centres studied had in general poor access to technical equipment for lifting and transporting waste, which contributed to manual material handling. During this handling, physically demanding work, involving heavy manual lifting and work in awkward postures, was common. Although several physical risks in the work environment were identified and the frequency of accidents was high, the employees in general expressed that their work environment was safe. Their awareness of risks in the work environment needs to be improved, in order to create a safer environment for both employees and visitors at recycling centres.

The psychosocial work environment is in general positive, with many social contacts. However, burglary and menacing visitors are growing problems, which are associated with increased insecurity in the employees' daily work.

Today, the layout of recycling centres varies considerably. It is therefore important to review the work environment and utilise the employees' knowledge and experience, including their suggestions for improvements in the work environment at each centre. The results and suggestions presented in this thesis could be one starting point for creating recycling centres with a good work environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 2006. , 45 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1284
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-37835Local ID: 39528ISBN: 91-8564-335-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-37835DiVA: diva2:258684
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2013-12-17
List of papers
1. Reported occupational injuries at Swedish recycling centres – based on official statistics
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reported occupational injuries at Swedish recycling centres – based on official statistics
2011 (English)In: Ergonomics, ISSN 0014-0139, E-ISSN 1366-5847, Vol. 54, no 4, 357-366 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Swedish recycling centres are manned facilities for waste collection. There is no special category in the official injury statistics for employees at recycling centres, which precludes a straightforward analysis of reported occupational injuries. This study aimed at identifying the frequency of reported accidents and diseases and the type of events that contribute to such injuries at recycling centres, based on official injury statistics. The employees were identified as being affected by more than three to five times as many accidents compared with the total workforce in Sweden. The reported accidents had occurred during a wide range of situations, but most frequently during manual handling of waste. Reported work-related diseases were mostly associated with musculoskeletal disorders, mainly due to heavy lifting. A more detailed classification of sanitation professions and workplaces in the official injury statistics would facilitate future studies of injuries in a specific professional category, e.g. employees at recycling centres. Suggestions for prevention are given.

Statement of Relevance: The present article describes all reported work accidents and diseases among employees at recycling centres from 1992 to February 2005. It also highlights the problem of identifying new working groups in the official statistics and gives advice for a detailed classification to facilitate such future studies of injuries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor and Francis, 2011
Keyword
accident, disease, insurance, waste, work-related
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-68024 (URN)10.1080/00140139.2011.556261 (DOI)000289570900005 ()
Available from: 2011-05-06 Created: 2011-05-06 Last updated: 2017-12-11
2. Risk in the physical work environment at Swedish recycling centres
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Risk in the physical work environment at Swedish recycling centres
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today, there is insufficient knowledge about work environment risks at Swedish recycling centres, which are manned facilities for waste collection. The aims of this study were to 1) assess the work environment at recycling centres, 2) identity work environment risks, and 3) give examples of potential for improvement. Questionnaires to employees (n=49), interviews with employees (n=32) and managers (n=I6), and an ergonomic checklist (n=16) were used to analyse the work environment at 16 recycling centres. Risk perception among the employees was low, even though high risks were identified. There was a lack of equipment to support the employees when they performed manual material handling. If visitors threw their waste into the right containers and if the employees had access to better equipment for material handling, the physical work environment could be enhanced. At half of the recycling centres studied, employees reported severe problems with burglary.

National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102633 (URN)
Available from: 2013-12-17 Created: 2013-12-17 Last updated: 2013-12-17
3. Manual material handling at a Swedish state-of-the-art recycling centre
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Manual material handling at a Swedish state-of-the-art recycling centre
2006 (English)In: Proceedings of Nordic Ergonomics Society's 38th Annual Congress, 2006Conference paper, Published paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Manned recycling centres are used in Sweden for collection of mainly large-sized, hazardous, and electrical waste from households. This study aimed at identifying common manual work tasks performed with and without using technical equipment at a Swedish state-of-the-art recycling centre, and to give suggestions for further improvements. Observations of the employees and focus group interviews were performed. Although the facility studied had been recently built and could be considered as a state-of-the-art example, the work tasks involved heavy manual lifts and insufficient human-machine interaction increasing the risks for accidents. Suggestions for improvements include additional equipment for material handling.

Keyword
waste, risk, equipment, work environment
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102634 (URN)
Conference
Nordic Ergonomics Society's 38th Annual Congress (NES2006), Hämeenlinna, Finland, 24-27 September.
Available from: 2013-12-17 Created: 2013-12-17 Last updated: 2013-12-17

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