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16 December 2015

A trade union survey brings to light health problems experienced by waste industry workers

An opinion poll conducted by the French union CFDT reveals that 60% of employees in the waste industry consider that their work affects their health.

When asked to be more precise, 78% stated that their work causes them to experience a state of general fatigue; 55% complained of joint, and/or muscular pain, 30% of mental or psychological problems, and 24% of allergies or skin problems.

Questioned about what bothers them most in the performance of their work, a majority of 69% referred to dust, far more than the numbers mentioning noise (36%), temperature (28%) or the unpleasant smells given off by the waste (27%).

Replies to another question reinforce the sense that this sector is indeed subject to serious health and safety problems. Asked about their day-to-day concerns at work, 71% mentioned ‘working conditions’, outstripping those who referred to pay (65%).

Effective enforcement of prevention measures emerges as another issue: while 59% of workers state that they are required by their employer to wear protective respiratory equipment, 34% say that, though such equipment is available, its use is not mandatory.

In relation to the section of the questionnaire covering worker representation, the results are less alarming: 94% of workers are covered by a Committee for Health, Safety and Working Conditions and 55% claim to have received information or training on the occupational risks associated with their work; one in three is a member of a union, far more than the French average of about 8%.

Around 650 workers (only 7% of them women), engaged for the most part in incineration activities, answered the questionnaire between mid-2014 and mid-2015.

To find out more:

HesaMag no 9: Waste and Recycling: workers at risk, 1st semester 2014

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