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Common injury risks faced by sanitation workers

by | Apr 21, 2021 | Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injuries

New York sanitation workers encounter dirt and danger as a regular part of their daily work duties. This fact means that workers in the industry face more injury risks than many other workers. One way sanitation workers can decrease the risk is to familiarize themselves with the most common workplace hazards they face.

Lifting heavy objects

There is no way for sanitation workers to know what objects they will need to lift onto a truck each day. It is not uncommon for these workers to suffer back injuries or develop hernias that lead to workers’ compensation claims. Workers can reduce the risk they face from lifting objects by learning proper lifting techniques. Partnering with other workers to move heavy objects will also mitigate these risks.

Hazardous materials

Sanitation workers can encounter nearly every type of hazardous material possible while performing their job duties. Items commonly left in trash include battery acid, pesticides, hypodermic needles, and bleach. These materials place sanitation workers in constant danger for infections, respiratory damage, burns, poisoning, and other serious health issues. Some of these risks are difficult to mitigate. But workers can protect themselves by wearing boots, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and gloves while working.


Rodents and small animals often search through trash for food to eat. Most workers will have regular encounters with mice, rats, and roaches. But there are times when animals as large as bears forage through residential trash for food. Animal bites can cause rabies and other diseases. Workers should also be careful of handling dead animals as they can also be disease carriers.

Passing vehicles

It may come as no surprise to some people that motor vehicles represent the biggest threat to sanitation workers. Workers spend much of their workday either hanging from the back of a truck or working in the street. For this reason, sanitation work ranks near the top of the list for professions that encounter motor vehicle damage.

A workplace injury can cost a worker months of recovery time along with permanent damage to their ability to earn a living. Individuals who suffer an injury while working may benefit from a consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney.