Best Practices for Garbage Collection

Concern Details


Collecting garbage and recyclables is a strenuous job due to heavy loads, awkward postures, and repetitive lifting. Following these recommended practices will help reduce the risk of developing a musculoskeletal injury.


For the Worker

  • Move feet to pick up garbage and place into truck, instead of twisting your trunk and throwing the load.
  • Reduce load weight by ensuring you only lift one garbage bag at a time.
  • Do not lift heavy, awkward loads by yourself.
  • Wear appropriate footwear, gloves, and clothing for the weather conditions.

For the Employer

  • Wear appropriate footwear, gloves, and clothing for the weather conditions.
  • Ensure trucks have adequate grating on exterior and interior steps to prevent slips.
  • Ensure trucks have adequate grab handles at the side doors and back of the truck to encourage 3-point contact. Ensure grab handles have enough grip.
  • Ensure that ride-on platforms at the back of the truck are adequate size. Add extensions to steps if necessary.
  • Purchase trucks with air ride.
  • Purchase trucks with big, wide, and lower side hopper and lower rear hoppers.
  • Investigate automated load trucks.
  • Investigate design recycling and composite bins to increase vertical han d heights when lifting and to enable 2-handed lifting of organic bins.
  • Decrease number of stops per individual worker to reduce high lifting frequency.
  • Set a maximum weight limit per container and notify customers that items will be tagged and NOT collected.
  • Consider payment by the hour instead of tonnage or using a “finish and go home” pay scheme to discourage work done at excessively fast rates that increases the potential for injuries.
  • Improve communication with the community on where garbage should be places, especially during the winter months.

References or resources

The information contained in this document was developed in partnership with the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association ( and CRE-MSD as part of the following project funded by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (Ontario):

Kramer, D., Bigelow, P., Vi, P., Garritano, E., Wells, R. Encouraging construction companies to adopt innovations to reduce MSDs using different knowledge transfer techniques. 2008-2011.

Do you want to download this resource?
Case Study (2 page PDF)