Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.
Workers are at an increased risk of injury when manually pushing or pulling mobile industrial waste containers (also known as "dumpsters"). They can develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or receive other injuries if struck by the waste container or a vehicle.
MSDs are injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system, including muscles, tendons, nerves and spinal discs. They can develop as a result of ongoing exposure to MSD hazards such as repetitive work, forceful exertions such as heavy lifting and pushing, and awkward postures.
Large metal mobile waste disposal containers are used at many workplaces, including factories, condominiums, high-rise apartment buildings, shopping plazas and educational facilities.
These bins are constructed of steel and typically range in capacity from 1.5 to 4.6 cubic meters. The figure below illustrates a typical container.
In some buildings, these containers must be moved from an indoor location (where they have been filled) to an outdoor area where they will be emptied by a disposal truck. Containers filled with recycled waste and organic material may also be moved outdoors for pickup. Workers may have to manually push or pull the containers when powered equipment is not available to perform this task.
The forces required to manually push or pull a container can be excessive. Workers can face an increased risk of developing an MSD due to overexertion when manually pushing or pulling a container.
The amount of force required to perform this task depends on the weight of the container and the waste inside, the size and condition of the container, the type, size and condition of the castors, and the surface along which the container is moved. Also, if the floor surface is cracked or damaged or there are changes in elevation, sudden increases in the amount of the force that must be exerted by the worker to keep the container moving or control its path may occur, further increasing the risk of developing an MSD.
Workers, pedestrians or vehicles can be struck by a waste container if a worker loses control of a container while moving it. There is an increased risk of a worker losing control of the container when manually moving it on a sloped surface such as a ramp. Forces are greater when pushing a container up a ramp and when trying to control the container when moving it down a ramp. Also, containers are often moved in areas where there is vehicular traffic, so safeguards must be in place to ensure that workers maneuvering the container are not struck by vehicles.
Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), employers must:
Under the Regulation for Industrial Establishments, employers must:
To reduce the risk of injury to workers moving industrial waste bins, the following are recommended best practices that an employer can take:
More information on manual material handling, ergonomics, and MSDs can be found at ontario.ca/MSD.
Call 1-877-202-0008 any time to report critical injuries, fatalities or work refusals. Call 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for general questions about workplace health and safety. Always call 911 in an emergency.
ISBN 978-1-4606-4986-2 (HTML)
ISBN 978-1-4606-4987-9 (PDF)