Risks and hazards in waste management and recycling

Posted on 30th Nov, 2015 | By Lorretta Tatham

Waste management and recycling workers are susceptible to all kinds of risks and hazards ranging from the minor to the major. In fact, the number of fatal incidents in the waste and recycling industry is more than ten times the national average and accident rates are four times the national average.

Over the last five years there have been 37 worker fatalities in the UK in the waste management and recycling injuries. Nine of these fatalities were a result of being struck by a moving vehicle, five were a result of a machinery-related incident, and three of the cases were a result of falling from a height.

Annually, there are around 6,000 workers in these industries that sustain a non-fatal injury at work. Almost 70% of specified injuries were due to slips, trips or falls, a fall from a height, or being struck by an object; while lifting and handling was responsible for around a third of over 7-day injuries in the sector.

Main risks and hazards


There are a huge range of hazards in the waste management and recycling industries. Many of these can be minimised with proper awareness and training.

They include: 

  • Workplace transport – Working around large vehicles carries dangers for both those on site and those driving the vehicles. Risks include reversing accidents, poor visibility, site traffic, loading and unloading vehicles, as well as working at a height.


  • Slips trips and falls – With contaminated, slippery floors being a real risk, workers need to be aware of the environment they are working in and wear the appropriate footwear. Proper cleaning methods should also be used to clean up any hazardous materials.


  • When it comes to working at a height, proper access equipment needs to be used to prevent falls from occurring. Safety training courses, such as our Work at Height Training Course, will also provide the necessary knowledge to maintain health and safety standards on site.


  • Manual handling – Workers in this field will be handling heavy objects on a regular basis. When handled incorrectly, injuries and strains can occur. Workers need not only attend courses, such as our Manual Handling Training Course, they also need to wear the appropriate PPE when handling objects, and apply the proper techniques to handling loads.


  • Harmful materials – In the waste industry, employees may be exposed to potentially dangerous materials. Depending on the material, injuries can occur through skin contact, through ingestion, and even via inhalation through the lungs. Awareness of such materials and their dangers is key, as is wearing the appropriate PPE at all times. At Browns Ladders we offer training on a number of hazardous substances including Asbestos Awareness Training and Legionella Awareness Training.


To find out more about any of the courses mentioned today, give our safety training team a call on 01282 615517. You can also find further details on all the courses by clicking through to the course content page.

Have you ever been a victim of an accident in the waste management and recycling industry? If so, share your story in the comments below, or tweet your story to us @BrownsLadders

    Contact us today

    We're here to help





    Book an inspection today!

    Give us a call today and a member of our helpful team of advisors will be able to get your ladder inspections booked in for you. Call us on 01282 615517 now

    Join our mailing list...