The identification of the domestic waste collection system associated with the least operative musculoskeletal disorders using human resource absence data

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E-pub ahead of print


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Original languageEnglish
Article number104424
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Early online date29 Jul 2019
StateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jul 2019


With increasing pressures around public sector costs, UK Local
Authorities (LAs) and waste collection companies, are under pressure to reduce absence rates due to ill health. The identification of the 'safest' method of waste collection in the UK has been largely unresolved with many different types of waste and recycling receptacles used and deemed acceptable. The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationships between domestic waste collection methods and absence due
to Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) through the comparison of absence rates for different activity. Studies based upon ergonomic theory had suggested the use of wheeled bins is better than the use of boxes, but this has not been tested empirically.
Absence data was obtained from 15 LAs who allocated a more detailed activity role to their records, allowing for activity absence rates to be calculated. The outputs were collated and analysed using SPSS to identify statistically significant relationships between types of waste collection services. The results confirm that wheeled bins are associated with less proxy measures of MSD than boxes, baskets and sacks with even lower absence rates associated with 1100 litre capacity bins, when handled by two workers. Findings also indicates that there is a level where MSD
absence interventions are unlikely to be sustainable.
In conclusion these findings should help LAs better understand some critical factors regarding waste collection strategies and MSD absence and inform HSE enforcement strategies. Employers should interrogate their own ill health data and seek to move to systems that create less MSDs.


  • waste collection sector, health and safety, public sector, waste and recycling