Glass recycling collection exposes workers to dangerous noise levels

WRAP Cymru has warned in a new report, released yesterday (20 May), that workers who carry out collections of kerbside glass for recycling can be exposed to dangerous levels of noise.

Noise Exposure in Glass Recycling Collection – Further Measurements, which builds on research from 2012 into noise exposure in glass recycling collections, evidenced that some of these noise levels could be breaching the Control of Noise at Work Regulations.

Glass recyclingThe report was published by WRAP Cymru Collaborative Change Programme and compiles the results of surveys from 19 different recycling collection vehicles and kerbside collection systems carried out since 2016.

It was found that levels of noise differed depending on the amount of glass collected on each collection round – workers on rounds where less glass was collected experienced lower levels of noise exposure.

Furthermore, the design of the vehicle affected noise levels workers were exposed to – a collection with an operative stationed on a roof-covered vehicle was found to have the highest risk of noise exposure.

However, between the three streams (kerbside sort, two-stream partially mingled, three-streams partially mingled) compared, no clear differentiation in noise levels was revealed.

At the end of the report, WRAP Cymru suggests that in order to mitigate the damaging effects of noise exposure for recycling collection workers, individual operatives must undertake tailored assessments to check specific levels of noise exposure and make adjustments accordingly.

Carl Nichols, Head of WRAP Cymru, said: “The work we’ve undertaken includes surveys across England and Wales, and will be important to local authorities across the UK as these show the spectrum of noise that workers may be exposed to during their working day, potentially at levels above those set in regulation.

“We advise all local authorities to take a careful look at the services they provide and ensure a working environment that minimises noise exposure to their workers.”