Waste Workers Occupational Health and Safety

World-wide an estimated 20 million people earn their living from recycling waste (ILO Green Jobs Report, 2013). Waste picking often involves the collection, sorting, and processing of materials with little or no health and safety protections. Waste pickers may work in the streets, open dumps, sanitary landfills, and sorting warehouses, where each workplace presents different degrees of risks and vulnerabilities to waste pickers. Workers are exposed to infectious diseases from medical waste, heavy metals, dusts and chemical vapors, heat and cold stress, falls and other injuries. These precarious work conditions, along with socio-economic and psychological stress, and exposure to different forms of violence, are also factors that impact workers’ health and overall well-being. Most of these workers are under informal employment without access to social protection where on average, earnings are low and risks are high. Thus, there is no organization to train and protect workers from injuries and disease.


Project Vision

That all workers may have a safe work place and return home healthy every day

Project Mission

  • Design a sustainable model for Occupational Safety Heath Program for waste workers
  • Construct a framework for analyzing, envisioning and developing present and futures scenarios of waste workers’ health
  • Identify funding sources for OSH projects including grants
  • Educate professionals on the issues and develop projects related to the protection and health promotion of this category of workers

Project Team

To learn about the people who are involved in the WWOSH group, please follow this link

WWOSH Project areas

We are seeking grants and volunteers for transnational research projects in the areas of:

Safety training for waste workers

Research projects targeting risk reduction for workers

Design/distribute eductional materials for workers (hygiene measures)

Pilot safety and health interventions

Design a sustainable model for OSH program for waste workers

Build a database of research

Some of the projects we've worked on

Brasilia, brasil

A five-session training course was offered to waste workers at the Structural dump.

Dhaka city, Bangladesh

Rapid assessment of health and livelihood situations of waste pickers.

Brasilia, Brasil

Survey of disease vector proliferation as a consequence of the Open Dump in Distrito Federal.

Brasilia, Brasil

Detection of lead in biospecimens from children of waste pickers living in Brasilia.