Health and Safety Considerations in Waste Management

Document Type

Contribution to Books

Publication Date


Publication Title

Handbook of Environmental Engineering: Solid Waste Engineering and Management: Volume 3


Waste management is an essential element whether it is in developed or developing countries since each country needs to deal with waste products that involve the collection, treatment and disposal of the refuse/garbage. A part of effective management would include safety and health requirements since it will provide protection for the workers while reducing costs in terms of accidental and work-related diseases. Henceforth, health and safety scope play a crucial role for industries associated with high risk and accidental issues such as mining and construction, as would be available in most literature. However, it rarely includes the waste sector even though the workers are exposed towards various high-risk factors not just from the ergonomic aspect but also in the physical and mechanical element as well as biological and chemical risks. The so-called safety concern is revolved around the physical hazard during the whole management step of waste, whereas the health risk is particularly due to the bioaerosol elements (dust, bacteria, fungi, endotoxin, etc.) Even more, these health and safety issues in waste management are considered more obvious in developing countries than in developed countries since most of the waste is handled by hand/manually, and there is also a lack of awareness or consideration regarding the risk. Obviously, each country dealt differently depending on the technological advancement in which developed countries would have a wider scope involving waste risk, such as for technological waste treatment (e.g. composting and incineration) and management of quite riskier waste materials (hazardous or radioactive waste). Nonetheless, the health risk related to waste management needs to be assessed for both the exposure pathway (workers and public) and also on the health effect from the exposure, with the need to consider the confounding factors.