In the UK an estimated half a million workers suffer from back injuries caused or aggravated by the job they do.

because of the nature of the work with heavy lifting or repetitive conveyor belt-based sorting those working with waste or recycling are especially vulnerable to the risks.

Back injuries accounted for 23% of all injuries sustained in the waste and recycling industry in 2002/03, but by promoting the use of lifting and handling aids through the ‘Better Backs’ campaign, HSE hopes to reduce the incidence of injuries of this nature.

Now the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is calling on employers within the sector to visit its ‘Better Backs’ website or call its helpline on 0845 345 0055 to pick up practical tips on how to minimise the risk of work-related back injuries.

The website helps workers and employees assess the risks of a particular job, choose the right equipment, teaches good handling techniques and aims to help those suffering from back injuries to return to a full and active life.

Linked to the Better Back campaign is a website designed for those working on conveyor belts.

It offers advice on how to prevent the risk of musculoskeletal injury by avoiding the need for seated or standing operators to stoop excessively, twist, or over-reach whilst working.

Although written for all industries, it has particular relevance to sorting activities at materials recycling facilities.

For those who prefer the face-to-face approach the HSE will be offering advice on back injury at the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management Annual Conference and Exhibition 2005, taking place from 14-16 June at Paignton in Devon. It is Europe’s largest showcase for the waste management industry.

By Sam Bond

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