Workers' compensation: Waste collection poses severe hazards

California workers who collect recyclable materials and other refuse face multiple safety risks every day. Workers' compensation records indicate that waste collection is one of the most hazardous jobs nationwide. Common dangers they face include chemical poisoning, exposure to vermin and injuries caused by sharp objects. However, safety authorities say ergonomic injuries are the most common occupational hazards in this industry.

Waste collection involves frequent lifting, pushing and shoving of heavy objects. Therefore, learning proper and safe lifting techniques is crucial to avoid injuries like spinal damage, hernias, strain, sprains and other musculoskeletal injuries. Hand protection is essential to help reduce the risks of cuts and lacerations. Also, early morning dew, rain, ice or leaking fluids can make containers slippery and dangerous to handle.

Slips, trips and falls are almost par for the course for waste collectors. Wet and slippery surfaces are prevalent due to rain, ice, snow and spillages in their work areas. These workers also have to deal with ladders and running boards that could be slippery, and proper footwear is vital. Human factors feature in many work-related accidents in this industry, and workers must learn to avoid complacency and to recognize fatigue, both of which can put their lives on the line.

Employers who provide adequate safety training play essential roles in the protection of employee health and safety. When work-related accidents happen, injured workers might be eligible for insurance benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. An attorney who is experienced in dealing with the California workers' compensation insurance program can provide valuable assistance throughout the benefits claims process.

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