If a refuse collector injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
Refuse collection is hazardous job due to heavy lifting, exposure to waste-related toxins, the risk of bin lorry lifting mechanisms, and road traffic accidents.
Refuse Collector Injuries might occur from lifting heavy objects, machinery accidents, or exposure to hazardous waste.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an injury at work, we can help.
If your injuries were caused by your employer or a co-worker, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a work accident compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
With around 4,000 waste sector workers injured each year, you are not alone
Each year, around 4 percent of workers in the waste collection industry are diagnosed with an illness they believe to be work related. A further 3 percent (approximately 5,000 refuse collectors) suffer a work-related injury according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
This injury rate, which is around four times greater than other comparable sectors, reflects the demanding nature of the job and the fact that refuse collectors often work in poor light and bad weather.
Any refuse collector who is injured due to the negligence of their employer or another third party may be eligible to claim compensation. Depending on the type of accident, the claim will likely fall under the category of accident at work claims or work-related illness claims, made against the local authority employer or private waste contractor.
If you decide to make a refuse collector injury claim, your work accident solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Am I entitled to make a refuse collector injury claim?
If you've been injured or diagnosed with an illness in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, you will be able to claim compensation.
Find out online if you can claim with our injury claim calculator. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
Can I claim compensation if I was partly at fault?
The law concerning liability (or blame) for an accident is complex, and varies depending on the situation.
In our 2023 Work Injury Claimant Survey, 26.02% of injured workers believed they were partly responsible for their injuries, or were uncertain.
You could still have a valid claim if you were partly to blame for your injury. Employers may be also be held responsible under vicarious liability for injuries caused by employees, making a claim possible if you or a colleague caused your injury or illness.
How long do I have to claim refuse collector injury compensation?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
If you were not immediately aware that you were harmed by someone else's negligence, the 3-year time limit runs from the date you were diagnosed and became aware of what caused your injury or illness.
How much compensation can I claim for a refuse collection injury?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Refuse collector injury
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General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred because of your accident. In addition to paying for loss of earnings, including lost overtime, holiday pay, benefits and pension contributions, special damages can cover any care costs and medical procedures you need, such as diagnostic imaging tests, physical therapy and pain medication.
The psychological consequences of workplace injuries
Are you concerned about the mental and emotional impact of your injury? You are not alone.
Our 2023 Work Injury Claimant Survey reveals the extent of psychological trauma, with 25.03% of claims involving a psychological injury, 62.38% of which related to a physical injury.
Some workers remain hesitant to seek help for potential psychological injuries, fearing that their concerns will be dismissed or they will be treated differently.
Factoring compensation for psychological harm will ensure you receive mental health support and other therapies that may not be readily available on the NHS in your area.
Our compensation calculator can estimate your compensation for psychological injuries. Or you can call us on 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor.
Common refuse collector injury claims
Workers in the waste collection and recycling industry are exposed to a number of hazards in the workplace. These common causes of injury are set out below.
Struck by a moving vehicle
Refuse collectors must travel in bin lorries as drivers and passengers and frequently cross roads to collect refuse bins. Unsurprisingly, a significant number of accidents occur on the road. These include vehicle collisions, pedestrian accidents and incidences where the refuse worker is struck by the waste collection truck.
These claims are often treated as road accident claims, made against the negligence driver, rather than the refuse workers employer. Compensation is usually paid out by the driver's insurance company.
Contact with machinery
The majority of domestic waste collection trucks in the UK are fitted with a mechanical hoist to raise and lower bins. Injury may occur if the hoist fails, causing a bin to fall on the refuse collector, or if the refuse worker becomes entangled in the hoist during the tipping cycle. Accidents of this type can cause serious crush injury, head injury and concussion.
The introduction of bin hoists and wheelie bins has eliminated some of the risks associated with lifting heavy items. However, refuse collectors are still at risk of a manual handling accident when moving the waste bin from its storage place to the vehicle.
Trips, slips and falls
Refuse collectors frequently walk along public pavements and roads as part of their job. Defects such as potholes, raised paving slabs or icy, unsalted surfaces increase the risk of a slip, trip and fall accident.
Sharp object and needlestick injuries
Broken glass, serrated metal and other sharp objects are capable of causing cuts and lacerations if they are placed loose into a bin or refuse sack. Refuse collectors are also at risk of needlestick injury if syringes and dangerous sharps are negligently disposed into ordinary waste bins.
The Courts recognise that needlestick injuries often cause an amount of anxiety, stress or more severe psychological harm, as the injured worker worries about possible infection. It may be possible to claim for this harm even in cases where there is no resulting infection, due to the worker's very real fear.
Read more about needlestick injuries.
Is my employer liable?
Employers have a general duty to keep their workers safe from harm.
To minimise the risk of accidents occurring, employers must provide refuse collection workers with high visibility clothing and other types of personal protective equipment such as anti-slip safety boots and heavy duty gloves to protect against lacerations and needlestick injuries. Employers also have a duty to consider the ergonomic design of waste materials receptacles and to train all workers on the proper lifting and carrying techniques.
Failing to properly assess and minimise the risks associated with a refuse collection task may expose the employer to a compensation claim. Negligence is almost always established where the employer has breached a specific health and safety standard.
Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on 6 April 2022.
This legislation means that employers have an obligation to provide free Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all workers, including workers who are self-employed or on a zero-hours contract.
Under the previous 1992 regulations, employers were only required to provide PPE to employees with a formal employment contract.
If you are injured at work and your employer failed to provide you with suitable PPE, you may be entitled to claim compensation - even if you are self-employed.
What if I was partly to blame?
Employees must also observe health and safety protocols. For example, refuse collectors must:
- Wear the personal protective clothing provided by the employer
- Follow standards for the safe lifting, carrying and loading of refuse bins
- Observe the Highway Code if driving a waste collection truck
- Ride inside the cab and not on the footplate of a moving vehicle.
Where there is evidence of some negligence or reckless behaviour on the part of the employee, a Court may decide that the refuse worker contributed to his own injuries. It may still be possible to bring a claim in this situation, but the claimant's award typically will be reduced to reflect the part they played in the incident.
Employers' liability claims claims
Work accident claims are also known as employers' liability claims. Click on the icons below for more information:
How we can help you with your work accident claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning work accident claims.
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Jonathan Speight, Senior litigator
About the author
Jonathan has over 30 years' experience in the personal injury sector and has been awarded the rank of Senior Litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).