Needlestick or sharps injury is an obvious risk for ALL waste handlers, not only those who might handle clinical wastes.
These injuries, together with other cuts and grazes, add to the considerable injury rate and morbidity that is the lot of most waste handlers, yet are often overlooked in the shadow of a small but obviously tragic mortality rate.
Sharps injury for domestic waste handlers should be a rarity but as illicit drugs and sharps use inexorably increases, the risk of injury for those collecting bagged wastes must increase also. As we know from studies in clinical waste handlers, sharps-proof gloves and ballistic trousers offer little protection.
Due in part to the risk of injury to their employees, household waste company Greyhound is considering scrapping the collection of waste bags in Dublin for health and safety reasons unless the city council drastically reduces the number of streets where bag collections are still allowed.
Recently, a collection worker’s hand was pierced by a used syringe discarded in a bag, while a child in Ballymun also came into contact with syringes.
Under EU legislation introduced in July, the collection of bags was to be banned. However, following lobbying from local representatives, in the region of 900 streets were given a derogation from the legislation by Dublin City Council, a decision that Greyhound says poses risks for its collection staff and the public.
Greyhound’s managing director John Brosnan said: “Bin bags have been a source of risk to our crews, with syringes, broken glass, and other sharp instruments found discarded in bags.
With the increasingly frequent change to bin collections, predicated mainly on cost grounds, perhaps the change will also reduce the overall accident and injury rate associated with handling bags.
We can but hope!