Approaching Issues of Worker Safety in Hazardous Material Recovery Facilites – An Initial Exploration of Media Coverage

In seeking research on the topic of working conditions in Material Recovery Facilties (MRF) or more colloquially, recycling centers, the number of results are few. Moreover, the coverage of this issue has largely been academic, as in studies being conducted on working conditions. What is lacking in coverage of this issue is the human story, the human voice; the story of the daily struggles of the recycling center worker. The reason they found employment there and have stayed. The healthcare they are provided. The most common health issues, resulting from their working conditions, they deal with. These factors would bring a face and an experience based in emotion to the coverage of the issue of MRF working conditions.

I did however find a few resources, which I will link to. One, though it is not an article, is an informative study conducted by a student at Tufts University, entitled “Risks and Hazards for Recycling and Waste Workers in the Bay Area”. The study can be viewed at: http://lohp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/EBASE.pdf

Another resource, more article and news oriented was HesaMag. HesaMag’s website described the magazine as, “a magazine all about health and safety at work, published in English and French. It is profusely illustrated, printed in full color, and designed to appeal to a wide readership. HesaMag is published twice a year, and sets out to show that occupational health is not just something for specialists but both a big political issue and a daily concern for millions of workers”. The magazine is published by the European Trade Union Institute. Though European in scope, the magazine provides information and perspective I did not find in the American media landscape. The March 2014 issue entitled ‘Wast and Recycling: Workers at Risk’, can be found here: http://www.etui.org/Topics/Health-Safety/HesaMag/Waste-and-recycling-workers-at-risk . There, links to PDFs of articles can be found. Articles (PDF) of interest include, ” The fatal dangers of working in the recycling industry”, “The bottom line is that sorting’s done by people”, and “Working the Bins in Italy”. These articles seem to be very well planned out, with heavy emphasis on statistics, multiple graphical representations of data, and personal story excerpts.

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One Response to “Approaching Issues of Worker Safety in Hazardous Material Recovery Facilites – An Initial Exploration of Media Coverage”

  1. Misba, thanks very much for looking up these resources. I think you’re right: the human voice of people who work at these facilities would be compelling. That’s a great news story idea.

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