Waste and recycling workers lack training on infection prevention: study
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.