Refuse collector injury compensation claims

In the following article we set out what you need to know about making a waste worker accident compensation claim.

How much can I claim?

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, around 5,000 refuse collectors, suffer a work-related injury according to figures from the Health and Safety Executive.

This injury rate, which is around four times greater than other industry 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.

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Do I have a claim if injured as a refuse worker?

If you were injured working as a refuse worker in the last three years and someone else was to blame, then we can help you make a compensation claim.

Do I have a claim?

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.

Loading injuries

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.

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.

How does No Win, No Fee work?

Typically a no win no fee arrangement (more correctly known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) is put in place between a claimant and a specialist injury solicitor.

The no win no fee agreement is essentially the terms and conditions under which the solicitor works for the claimant.

The CFA sets out what the solicitor will do and how he or she will be paid if the case is won.

If you decide to choose our solicitors for your waste worker injury claim there will be no hidden or extra charges , nothing to pay up-front and the peace of mind that you will not be financially out of pocket.

How much compensation can I claim for a refuse collector injury?

The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our work accident compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.

How much can I claim?

Road traffic accident claims

Every year almost 200,000* people are injured on Britain's roads. If you have been injured in a road accident that was not your fault, you can claim compensation.

Find out more about claiming refuse worker compensation for a road accident: Read more about road accident claims

*Source: Official Department of Transport statistics (

Meet the team

Quittance Legal Services' nationwide panel of solicitors carry out the legal work for all types of work accident claim, including fast track, complex and serious injury claims. Our lawyers are selected on the basis of their track record in recovering compensation and their level of experience.

Click here to meet more of the QLS team.

Kevin Walker Serious Injury Panel Solicitor
Emma Bell Employers and Public Liability Panel Solicitor
Shahida Chaudery Complex Injury Claims Panel Solicitor
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).

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert