Ergonomics Research/studies Musculoskeletal disorders Administrative/support/waste management/remediation

Wheeled trash bins lower sanitation workers’ MSD-related absences: study

garbage man

Photo: kozmoat98/iStockphoto

London — Use of wheeled waste collection bins – instead of bags, boxes or baskets – may reduce musculoskeletal injuries and lost worktime among sanitation workers, according to a recent study out of the United Kingdom.

Researchers from the University of Greenwich analyzed solid waste worker absence data from 15 local authorities in the United Kingdom, using software to calculate absence rates in relation to occupational characteristics. They found that workers who worked in municipalities that used wheeled bins experienced a lower rate of absences attributed to MSDs. Further, when two workers used larger four-wheeled bins, even fewer absences were reported.

“Employers should evaluate ill health risks before new waste collections systems are adopted and rolled out,” study lead author David Thomas, a University of Greenwich faculty member and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health Environmental and Waste Management Group Committee member, said in an Aug. 8 press release. “They should also monitor absence rates specific to work activity to ensure that they move to more sustainable systems that create less MSDs.”


IOSH lists numerous risk factors related to MSDs:

  • Repetitive and/or heavy lifting
  • Bending and twisting
  • Uncomfortable working positions
  • Excessive exertion
  • Working too long without a break
  • Working in extreme heat or cold

The study was published online July 29 in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling.

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