Taking into account the territory in occupational risks prevention. The case of work activity in waste sorting centers

Theories and methodologies
By Leïla Boudra, Pascal Béguin, Bertrand Delecroix, Valérie Pueyo


Environmental sustainability issues lead to the emergence of new economic sectors (“green business”), representing original scopes for occupational risks prevention, in order to contribute simultaneously to the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, environmental and social). In this context, we carried out a research on occupational risks prevention in five waste sorting centers, that lead to question the links between territory, work and prevention. Indeed, our results show that the territory is a structural element of sorting work because waste is a territorialized object. Important issues are then asked about the coherence between waste management into the territory and working conditions into the waste sorting center, and the possibility to maintain such a coherence over time. Particularly, a national evolution of sorting instructions for plastic packaging modified the articulation between the five waste sorting centers studied and their territory, including effects on occupational health and effects on the system efficiency. On this basis, two orientations for prevention are identified and discussed in this article. The first one questions the design of the sorting centers in terms of capacity to absorb the (inevitable) changes in the territory of the sorting center. The second one questions the perimeter of collective and social dynamics for prevention: in the waste sorting sector, prevention must be extended beyond the company’s boundaries to reach the territorial scale. In conclusion, we discuss two aspects: the notion of territory and its definition in an actor-oriented perspective and considering the territorial dimension for occupational risks prevention.


  • work
  • territory
  • prevention
  • green business
  • recycling
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