Waste disposal workers have one of the most dangerous, physically-demanding jobs in the United States. They must operate industrial-grade equipment routinely and are exposed to numerous toxins, pollutants, and chemical contaminants daily. This repeated exposure can lead to several long-term, life-threatening illnesses.
Injury and Illness Rates for Waste Disposal Workers
According to a United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, the waste disposal workers’ injury and illness rate is almost twice higher than any other occupation in America. From 2017 to 2018, occupational injuries and illnesses for waste management workers increased from 116.9 thousand to 118.6 thousand.
In a 2017 study published in Occupational Medicine, researchers found that “rates of fatal, non-fatal injuries and self-reported work-related illness were higher in the waste and recycling sector than in [the work] industry as a whole.”
Some of the most common illnesses for waste disposal workers include:
- Extrinsic allergic alveolitis – A respiratory condition caused by the regular inhalation of organic dust, typically within a work setting.
- Aspergillosis – A type of fungal infection caused by repeated exposure to the fungus Aspergillus, located in waste disposal settings
- Occupational asthma – Asthma caused by the repeated inhalation of irritants such as toxic vapors, specks of dust, or gases
- Abnormalities of lung function – A wide range of lung conditions can cause abnormal functionality, such as diseases, viruses, irritations, and infections.
- Lead poisoning and exposure to other heavy metals – Heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, have been linked to DNA damage and congenital disabilities.
Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t enforce protective respiratory gear for waste disposal workers. When the protective equipment is worn, it is typically very minimal. Industry professionals agree that the waste disposal sector still has much room for improvement in protecting workers from occupational hazards.
Contact a New York Toxic Exposure Workplace Attorney
Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers from known occupational hazards. If you or someone you love has become injured or ill due to exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace, the workplace injury attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP will be ready to help you get justice and fair compensation for the harm you’ve suffered. Call us at (212) 779-0057 or online to schedule a free consultation with our team today.