It was in the 1980s when waste contractors and local councils first rolled out guidance concerning wheelie bins for the public and businesses across Great Britain. The advice entails the size of wheelie bins one can have and the type of waste that can be put in them.
But as a matter of fact, waste collection workers – regardless of the care they take – are prone to injury or exposure to hazardous materials, mainly if the wheelie bins collect spills and residues or if they are not cleaned regularly.
More awareness about worker health and safety
It was common to see manual labourers in warehouses and on docks, hauling heavy loads to and fro. Recently, however, people have become aware of the adverse effects of such load handling on the musculoskeletal system.
Musculoskeletal problems account for about one-third of reported injuries, particularly in the waste management and recycling industry. These could be either sudden injuries – as a direct consequence of activity – or cumulative, due to repetitive manual tasks like operating a hand pallet jack.
Worse, waste collection workers are prone to lifting-related RIDDOR incidents such as muscle ligament damage, back injury, and hernia. Top-level bin lifting and handling courses will not eliminate the problem entirely.
On the other hand, if they use dynamic hydraulic bin lifters, they reduce manual effort and eliminate exposure to hazardous materials. But there are still common bin-lifting incidents that can happen to them, including:
- Getting struck by a bin falling from the bin lifter
- Getting hit by the bin, still attached to the bin lifter, as it returns to the ground
- Injuring themselves when releasing a waste bin “hung up” on the bin lifter
- Becoming entangled in the bin lifter during the tipping cycle
Steps demanded to reduce the risk of injury
According to the Manual Handling Operations Regs, any manual handling activity that involves a risk of injury should be avoided as far as possible. Where avoiding it is not feasible, steps should be taken to minimise the injury risk. A good starting point for this is to understand the factors that could lead to injuries when someone is working on waste collection and recycling, such as:
- Load weight
- Vehicle design
- Work environment
- Waste receptacle design
- Waste collection frequency
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- How much training the person has in load handling
In addition, proper training on lifting and handling techniques and protective gear will help besides undertaking a comprehensive risk assessment, which covers all types of risks such as:
- Changing the order in which bins are loaded onto the bin lifter
- Moving the waste bin manually and with machinery
- Inadequate maintenance of the bins and bin lifters
- Flexing the bins due to excess weight
Some other steps that can be taken to safeguard waste collection workers include:
- Keeping the waste collection receptacle in an easily accessible area to minimise the distance that needs to be travelled with the load
- Allowing workers adequate breaks between work shifts and coaching them on stretching techniques for proper recovery
- Conducting periodic medical checks on workers so that any musculoskeletal problems can be detected early and treated
- Setting a cap on the maximum weight any one person is allowed to lift as well as the maximum height to which they can lift it.
Deploying bin lifters for your waste collection workers
You see, filled bins are challenging to manage, and it is physically taxing to lift and empty them into a larger container. That is why it makes so much sense to use a bin lifter. Wheelie bin lifters protect workers against disease transmission, pollution, and exposure to hazardous materials.
Waste disposal is a breeze and more efficient, which enables time and cost savings in the long run. A sturdy bin lifter allows lifting and moving massive piles of rubbish – up to 600 kgs – depending on the model and make.
How to pick the best bin lifter for your business
Different bins have different purposes and capacities. Therefore, it is best to pick one depending on what you want to achieve:
- Decide the bin size. Assess the weight and capacity of the waste you create and select one bin accordingly.
- Identify the number of times your waste collection workers tip bins. Is it 2-10 times a day? Or simply 5-6 times a week? If your tipping frequency is higher, use a hydraulic-powered bin lifter that can do the job without human involvement.
- Know the work area and space requirements of your smart bin lifting solution. There are two types of bin lifters – full-swing (which requires more space and height clearance) and lift-and-tilt (which keeps its lifting motion within the bin lifter’s footprint).
In the future, we will likely see more widespread adoption of tech that handles all the lifting and loading. Hydraulic bin lifters, for instance, are emerging in popularity and could be a game-changer for waste management and any manufacturing industry.
In particular, as lithium-ion batteries and solar power kits become cheaper, powering up smart bin lifters will become more affordable for businesses of all sizes.
Over to you
In today’s age of high-end machines, there is simply no reason for humans to toil over load-carrying anymore. With smart bin lifters in place, waste disposal companies can safely and efficiently remove and transport waste for recycling as far as it needs to be carried.
Human employees can still operate the machinery, sort through waste or take a more strategic role in waste management – hydraulic bin lifters will take over the tedious and dangerous manual elements. Who does not want that?
If you want to purchase industry-leading bin lifting and tipping equipment, you will be glad to know we are the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for Simpro, a high-quality New Zealand-based bin lifting equipment manufacturer. To find out more about our systems, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.