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Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9024160, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/9024160
Research Article

Occupational Risks Associated with Solid Waste Management in the Informal Sector of Gweru, Zimbabwe

Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Midlands State University, P. Bag 9055, Gweru, Zimbabwe

Received 20 January 2016; Revised 21 March 2016; Accepted 11 May 2016

Academic Editor: Chunrong Jia

Copyright © 2016 Steven Jerie. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study identifies and analyses the occupational risks associated with solid waste management practices in the informal enterprises of Gweru. Many concerns have been raised about the potential harm from waste to the environment and the general public, but the risks and consequent costs of occupational hazards in waste management have received little attention in the rush to adopt or adapt technologies such as composting. A multimethods research design that triangulates qualitative and quantitative research paradigms is employed in this study. The quantitative design involves physical characterisation of solid waste through material component separation and measurements as well as a questionnaire survey that investigates the risks associated with waste management. The qualitative component includes interviews, open-ended questionnaires, and field observations. Occupational risks occur at every stage in the waste management process, from the point where workers handle waste in the enterprises for collection or recycling to the point of ultimate disposal. Key findings from the study revealed that solid waste management practices are dominated by manual handling tasks hence the higher incidents of muscular-skeletal disorders. Other safety and health hazards associated with waste management in the informal enterprises of Gweru include incidents of diarrhoea, viral hepatitis, and higher incidents of obstructive and restrictive disorders.