A comparison of manual handling risks in different domestic waste collection systems using three separate evaluation methods

David Thomas*, Billy Hare, Konstantinos Evangelinos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


Arising out of the challenge for Local Authorities (LAs) to operate sustainable systems of work, is to avoid the creation of ill-health including the most significant causes of physical absence, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The study's aim was to compare the reliability of the manual handling element of the Health and Safety Executives (HSEs) risk comparator tool for different domestic waste collection methods with self-reported pain via body-mapping and MSD ill health absence rates. Participatory body-mapping exercises were carried out in five LAs with one LA resurveyed, six months after the move from 35 and 50 L containers to a wheeled bin recycling service. The lowest levels of self-reported pain were for services designed with 240l wheeled bins excluding glass; the highest levels were for services that included 100l of garden waste sacks and recycling boxes. Industry data supports previous laboratory studies showing wheeled bins to be associated with less MSD outcomes than boxes, baskets and sacks. Triangulation of data established a statistically significant correlation of 0.85 (Pearson) between average pain-count (APC) and the mean MSD absence rates, with a strong correlation of 0.77 (Spearman) between APC and risk rating. The correlation is moderate, 0.49 (Spearman) between MSD absence and risk rating, reflecting possible intervening variables and a low participation rate by LAs. The contribution of this study is to improve the design of sustainable waste collection strategies to minimise MSD associated absence. In the absence of reliable absence data, body mapping should be used as a proxy method of assessing MSD risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103111
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Early online date9 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • local government
  • MSDs
  • recycling
  • waste collection
  • risk comparator tool
  • sustainable work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


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