Online Program

Assessment of workplace conditions and hazards in a recycling sorting cooperative plant in São Paulo, Brazil

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ana Maria Moreira, Departamento de Saúde Ambiental, Faculdade de Saúde Pública/ Universidade de São Paulo, SÃO PAULO, Brazil
Wanda Maria Risso Günther, Wanda, Departamento de Saúde Ambiental, Faculdade de Saúde Pública/ Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Carlos Eduardo Siqueira, MD, ScD, College of Public and Community Service, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

Objective: To present occupational and environmental conditions on a Brazilian recycling sorting plant. Methods: Eighteen visits to a ragpickers’ cooperative facility that operates in partnership with the Municipal Recycling Program in São Paulo were conducted. Data collected through a survey and participant observation include: a) work organization, workplace occupational and environmental conditions; b) living and working conditions of ragpickers. Results: The cooperative is a warehouse where recyclables are sorted from a conveyor belt, pressed, packed in bales, stored, and finally sold to recycling industries. Sorting is done by 33 members. Some of the hazards identified include: ventilation is precarious, machinery is obsolete, wastes -such as decaying food, sanitary papers, dead animals, sharp objects, and chemicals- are mixed with recyclables. Dirty recyclables and junk are spread everywhere, difficulting movement and attracting disease vectors (rodents, pigeons and insects). 42.4% (14) of the rag pickers reported that they never suffered an accident; 24.2% (8) reported falls; 39.4% (13) serious cuts by glass in hands and limbs; 24.2% (8) superficial cuts and 12.1% (4) needle stick injuries. Physical and verbal aggression, finger injury, dog bite, electric shock, and skin irritation by printer toner powder were also reported. Conclusion:  Rag pickers were injured by a variety of sources and had high rates of workplace injuries. Physical, biological, chemical and ergonomic hazards as well as environmental health impacts were identified, caused by inappropriate sorting by consumers, poor work organization, poor training, old technology, and inadequate use of personal protective equipment.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe occupational and environmental conditions of a sorting recycling plant Identify main occupational hazards of a sorting recycling plant Discuss preventive measures to eliminate or reduce workplace hazards in recycling sorting plants

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, Occupational Health and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a health physician, specialized in Environmental Health, master degree in Science and consultant in solid waste, hazardous waste, and medical waste management. I manage the Recycling Program at the School of Public Health of the University of São Paulo, Brazil.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.