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Protecting the Health and Safety of Workers Involved with Recycling Activities

The Board for Global EHS Credentialing® (BGC®) reminds employers and employees of the importance and unique challenges of protecting workers involved with recycling activities from occupational health and safety risks.

Lansing, MI – WEBWIRE

There are substantial hazards associated with recycling activities, some of which can be specific to the materials being handled and processed.

Hundreds of millions of tons of waste are recycled each year and millions of workers across the globe are in occupations involved with recycling waste of various forms. In the United States alone, a Recycling Economic Information (REI) report supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that back in 2007, recycling and reuse activities already accounted for over 750,000 jobs.
As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports: While recycling is good for the environment, it can be dangerous for workers. Certain materials that are recycled or reused, such as scrap metal, electronics, batteries, and used oil and other chemicals, have materials that directly pose hazards to workers. In addition to those hazards, there are some hazards that are common across various types of recycling, such as traffic safety, moving machine parts, unexpected machine startup, lifting injuries, and slips, trips, and falls.  
“There are substantial hazards associated with recycling activities, some of which can be specific to the materials being handled and processed,” said Dirk Yamamoto, PhD, CIH® and Chair of the Board for Global EHS Credentialing. “For example, as reported by OSHA, composting and other activities to recycle organic material can create hazardous environments which can be fatal to workers who are not aware of the potential dangers. In particular, composting facilities often have confined space hazards, which may have respiratory hazards such as hydrogen sulfide or carbon monoxide gases, or other gases that may displace the oxygen in the area. Workers must have proper training and permits before entering these potentially hazardous atmospheres. Other exposure risks include exposure to mold and particulate matter which could cause or exacerbate occupational asthma, in addition to hypersensitivity pneumonitis and other respiratory conditions.”
One group of professionals dedicated to protecting the health and safety of workers involved with recycling activities are Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs). These dedicated experts are trained and experienced in identifying workplace hazards by anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling a wide range of chemical, physical, biological, and ergonomic stressors. Health risk analysis, hazard communication, work environments, personal protective equipment, and industrial processes are all key components of the CIH® program. This comprehensive knowledge base can help employers protect workers and comply with health and safety regulations.
About the Board for Global EHS Credentialing® (BGC®) and Its Credentials and Designations
Founded in 1960, the Board for Global EHS Credentialing’s mission is to be the leader in offering credentials that elevate the technical and ethical standards for professionals practicing the science of protecting, managing, and enhancing the health and safety of people and the environment. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) and the Institute of Professional Environmental Practice® (IPEP®) are credentialing divisions of the BGC, offering the Certified Industrial Hygienist® (CIH®) credential, Qualified Environmental Professional® (QEP®) credential, and the Environmental Professional In-Training® (EPI®) designation. 
Currently, more than 7,600 people around the world hold the CIH credential, QEP credential, or EPI designation. To locate a CIH to perform industrial hygiene services, please email a request to . To learn more about a BGC credential or designation, please visit, email or call (517) 321-2638.

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 Industrial Hygiene
 Occupational Health

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