Dumpsite waste pickers face stigma, harassment and exposure to occupational health and safety risk factors despite their important role in waste materials recycling. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the risk factors that the pickers were exposed to and their impacts, level of awareness on occupational health and safety and its relationship with waste recovery practices. The population of the study comprised the waste-pickers in Nakuru and Thika municipal dumpsites. The research design was a cross-sectional survey, the sample design was stratified sampling and the sample size 167. Analysis was by frequency tables, Ï‡2 test, t-test and correlation. The results showed that various risk factors existed in the dumpsites comprising of biomedical waste, sharps, harmful liquids and chemical residues, open fires and hot substances, fumes and smoke among others. It was found that although most waste pickers knew that they were working in a risky environment, a high proportion did not have any protective equipment and for those that had them, did not consistently use. No relationship was found between awareness of health and safety and waste recovery practices. It is recommended that in the short-term, the waste pickers should be assisted in formulation and enforcement of minimum standards of operation to reduce the risks associated with their work.
Keywords: waste pickers, waste picking, health and safety, risk factors, dumpsites, waste recovery, waste separation