Research/studies Workplace exposures Administrative/support/waste management/remediation

Waste and recycling workers lack training on infection prevention: study

Photo: vm/iStockphoto

Ann Arbor, MI — Despite being regularly exposed to biohazards, fewer than 3 in 10 solid waste and recycling workers receive training on infection prevention, results of a recent study show.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Texas A&M University surveyed 68 adult workers at three facilities in southeastern Michigan in the fall of 2021. They asked about job-related contact with biohazards such as airborne and bloodborne particles, medical waste, and bodily fluids and waste, as well as resources for mitigating exposures.

Results show that although 71% of the workers reported sustaining an injury or cut within the past year that could lead to an illness if exposed to biohazards, only 28% had received infection-prevention training.

Further, only 19% of the workers said they were “extremely concerned” about contracting an illness from biohazards. As a result, 30% didn’t report laceration injuries to their supervisor.

Personal protective equipment “available at each site varied,” the researchers note. The most common forms of mandatory PPE included safety vests and reflective clothing, steel-toe boots, and hard hats. However, only half of the workers reported using eye/face protection or hand protection.

“This study highlights the need for additional research on knowledge of exposure pathways and perceptions of the severity of exposure among this occupational group,” the researchers write.

The study was published online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)