Compost Safety and Health

Next edition of On-Farm Composting Handbook – a new chapter on "Composting Safety and Health."

This project was conducted for NRAES (Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service; group of 14 cooperative extension services in northeast US) and is in collaboration with the Cornell Waste Management Institute. I researched and authored a new chapter on composting health and safety.

The following is an excerpt from the introduction:

"Like farming, composting is rugged work. It involves mechanical equipment, physical labor and handling of diverse biological materials. It is usually practiced outdoors for long hours, in all types of weather. Even when composting takes place indoors, the environment can be difficult for workers. By its nature, composting exposes operators to assorted microorganisms (e.g. molds and bacteria), dust, vapors, noise, sharp objects, heavy objects, fog, sunlight, heat, extreme cold, strain, fatigue and mechanical and electrical machinery."

"Thus, composting inherently entails safety and health hazards. Even when composting facilities employ sound practices, there will always be risks associated with day to day operations, and occasional accidents. However, awareness of the hazards, prevention and preparedness keep the risks from becoming safety incidents and health problems."