Recycling Plant Worker Injury Lawyer
Recently, the recycling industry has grown significantly in creating new job opportunities for workers to collect, sort, and process nearly every type of recyclable material.
As a result, the number of recycling plant workers has grown, making them more susceptible to common hazards, and dangers involved in the recycling process have also heightened.
If you were injured while working at a recycling plant, you are likely entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
Contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information and a free review of your legal rights and options.
Recycling items back to the manufacturer is labor-intensive. The process begins with gathering materials and depositing them at a collection site, recycling center, or curbside pickup.
Collected recyclable materials are transferred to recycling plants, where employees sort and process items that move along conveyor belts. Recycled pickers then redistribute the items into groups, including glass, plastic, metal, aluminum, paper, rubber, etc.
Most major metropolitan areas operate the recycling system on a single-stream process where various recyclables are collected as a single group sorted at the processing plant. Workers usually stand along a conveyor belt while sorting the waste material that cannot be recycled.
In addition to workers, the recycling company also hires technicians and mechanics to operate and monitor the machines required to sort and bale recyclables.
Maintenance workers, technicians, and mechanics must maintain recycling trucks and equipment. To ensure the recycling operation runs smoothly, these workers must run inspections and perform diagnostic testing on equipment and recycle trucks.
Recycling Worker Hazards
Research conducted in 2015 by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and a recycling industry study conducted at the University of Illinois School of Public Health revealed a significant health risk and high injury rate involving recycling workers.
Research conclusions showed unnecessary hazards to recycling workers that jeopardized their health and safety. For example, the data showed that 17 recycling workers in the US died while on the job between 2011 and 2013.
Additionally, workers at recycling centers have a high risk of suffering job-related injuries compared to the average worker.
In an interview with the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, the Executive Director stated that "recycling has a right to do, but we have to do it right away. That means educating and empowering recycling workers and using proven prevention strategies which we know will reduce exposure to hazardous conditions."
High Death and Injury Rate
Another research report revealed that the recycling industry has an exceptionally high fatality and injury rate due to unsafe working conditions.
The worker is expected to perform their duties while exposed to hazardous items on the conveyor belt that include animal carcasses, toxic substances, deadly chemicals, and used contaminated hypodermic needles.
Additionally, the worker is expected to remain safe around heavy machinery, even though the moving conveyor can cause significant injuries without warning. Finally, the report suggests that many recycling plants hire more temporary employees (joint employer workers) than permanent workers.
However, these temporary workers tend to have less training and be less informed about their rights to remain safe while working, and very timid about speaking about their concerns of unsafe work practices and reporting injuries at recycling facilities.
Permanent and temporary workers are exposed to various common hazards, including:
- Exposure to Dangerous Biological Substances and Chemicals– local communities have initiated a multi-bin separation system where recyclables are pre-sorted before being collected to minimize the worker's exposure to dangerous hazards working near moving vehicles and the plant.
- Common exposure risks include the unpredictable nature of being poked by a used contaminated hypodermic needle, cut with a sharp metal object, nails, broken glass or wooden shard, and exposed to dead animals, household items, and industrial chemicals including batteries, solvents, and thermometers that contain mercury and motor oil.
- Improperly Secured Bales of Recycled Material– Most recyclable materials are gathered, contained, and strapped in bales that can weigh more than one ton. These bales are usually transported to another location and stored inside the plant using forklifts and front end-loaders heavy lifting onto transport trucks.
- Dangerous Machinery– Many workers must perform their duties around sorting machinery, conveyor belts, and compactors. All equipment requires daily or weekly servicing, including belt adjustments, internal cleaning, and general maintenance. The maintenance workers must ensure a functional lockout/tag-out procedure when servicing damaged or jammed equipment To minimize safety concerns.
- Exposure to Airborne and Dust Contaminants – Most sorters working at the recycling plant are exposed to dangerous respiratory hazards that can cause significant health consequences. Some hazards involve the micro-particles of biohazards, glass materials, plastics, and toxic substances, including silica and asbestos that are known to irritate the respiratory system.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders– Recycling center employees and waste workers must perform their duties in awkward positions that require reaching, twisting, stooping, bending, jumping, or reaching overhead while sorting materials moving quickly across the conveyor belt.
Recycling Plant Workers' Wages
US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that for the year 2016, there were 2070 recycling employees injured in the Chicago, Naperville, and Arlington Heights metropolitan areas.
These statistics reveal that employees doing recycling work in northeastern Illinois earned $26.90 per hour, or $55,960 annually, on average. These earning wages are substantially higher than the national averages.
OSHA statistics reveal that during 2015 and 2016, the number of fatalities of injured workers dropped dramatically in both the public and the private sector and remained the same for recyclable collectors transporting the material back to the plant.
- Case 1:Allentown, Pennsylvania – A 40-year-old male recycling plant worker died at the Northampton plant outside of Allentown on October 3, 2011. The victim was pronounced dead at the local hospital. After being crushed by a bale of recyclable material that fell on him, the worker suffered injuries.
- Case 2:Brooklyn, New York – A teenage worker was crushed to death while working in a Brooklyn, New York recycling plant in March 2013 after being hit by equipment inside a recycling truck. The truck's compactor equipment hit the 18-year-old male working behind the truck parked at the plant in the chest before being crushed and killed by its hydraulic system.
- Case 3:North Bergen, New Jersey – OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) cited the North Bergen recycling transfer station with violations after a worker's fingers were amputated while performing their duties. The investigation revealed that the plant had failed to follow safety procedures in using lockouts on the conveyor belt system to stop the equipment when the injured employee was clearing a cardboard jamb in the system.
File an Accident Injury Compensation Claim Involving a Recycling Plant Accident
Our lawyers help injured workers obtain financial compensation under the IL Workers' Compensation Act and civil lawsuits. Additionally, we provide free case reviews and a "No-Win/No Fee" guarantee.
If you were injured in a job-related accident or suffered an illness from exposure, you could receive workers' compensation. However, our lawyers might also help you receive additional monetary recovery from third parties.
Our law office will explore every legal option, including how to prove a third-party personal injury case. A personal injury claim for compensation has no limit.
Contact a Recycling Plant Workers' Compensation & Injury Law Firm
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Our law firm guarantees you pay us only if we obtain the financial recovery to pay your medical expenses and lost wages!
Contact our personal injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation.
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