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Manual material handling at a Swedish state-of-the-art recycling centre
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)In: Proceedings of Nordic Ergonomics Society's 38th Annual Congress, 2006Conference 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
waste, risk, equipment, work environment
National Category
Natural Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-102634OAI: diva2:680115
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
In thesis
1. Waste handling at Swedish recycling centres: work environment and risks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Waste handling at Swedish recycling centres: work environment and risks
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.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1284
National Category
Social Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-37835 (URN)39528 (Local ID)91-8564-335-1 (ISBN)39528 (Archive number)39528 (OAI)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2013-12-17

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ReferencesLink to record
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