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Minneapolis' new recycling program reduces worker injuries

When Minneapolis city officials unveiled a new single-sort recycling program, one of the primary motivations was likely to increase participation among residents. After initially rolling out the new program in November 2012, it has been successful in multiple ways so far. Not only is participation in recycling on the rise, but solid waste workers have been suffered fewer injuries this winter as compared to last.

When Minneapolis recycling workers had to lift and carry multiple recycling bins under the old program, there was a higher injury risk. The Star Tribune reports that falling glass containers and lifting bins out of the snow were common sources of injury. Now, however, moving all recyclable items into one container has greatly reduced those risk factors.

Seasonal accident statistics from the city seem to back up the idea that recycling workers are safer under the new program. Last winter, 12 workers were injured on the job, in comparison to only one so far this year. The other good news, as a result of this reduction in work-related accidents, is that the city has saved money.

Although workers are responding positively to the changes, there are risks of the job and reports indicate that safety can still be made. In particular, the severity of the winter this year in Minnesota has created multiple risks for workers. Beyond year-to-year concerns, such as slipping and falling on ice or snow, the extremely cold temperatures have posed a serious danger to workers who are often outside of a vehicle. Knowing this, accommodations should be made to help ensure that works can do their jobs safely with changes in the weather and city recycling program.

Even though improvements in employee safety are more than welcome, recycling workers should understand their options in the event they do suffer injuries. Certain elements of any job can be unpredictable and lead to injury, so it's best to know where to turn when post-injury support is needed.

Source: Star Tribune, "Injuries down, recycling up in Mpls. under new single-sort program," Emma Nelson, Feb. 8, 2014

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