Fewer Worker Deaths in Solid Waste Industry, DOL Says

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of fatalities by solid waste collection workers declined substantially in 2009 compared to 2008. In its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the fatality rate during 2009 for both solid waste collection and landfill employees continued to decline, as it has in recent years.

The report indicates that the fatality rate for solid waste collection workers (both refuse and recyclable material collectors) decreased from 31 fatalities in 2008 to 19 fatalities in 2009, a 39 percent drop. The report indicated that the number of fatalities for all waste management and remediation service employees (including collection, landfill workers, etc.) fell from 74 to 43 during the same period, a 42 percent drop.

National Solid Waste Management Association (NSWMA) Safety Director David Biderman stated, “We are very pleased that the solid waste industry reduced the number of workplace fatalities in 2009. According to NSWMA data, the leading cause of waste collection worker fatality is being struck by another vehicle, and we will continue to work with members, regulators and others to educate the public about this hazard. Seven collection workers were killed in struck-bys in 2009, and there have been at least four fatal struck-bys so far in 2010.”

Biderman urges all haulers and local governments to participate in NSWMA’s safety programs, including the Be Safe Be Proud and Slow Down to Get Around (SDTGA) programs, and communicate the importance of working safely to their employees.

Be Safe Be Proud is a series of industry safety videos developed by NSWMA (under a grant awarded by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration) with the solid waste worker in mind. These videos are available in VHS or DVD formats. The 18-20 minute videos feature actual solid waste employees in real workplace hazard situations faced by drivers and helpers on collection routes or by workers at landfills and transfer stations. They help companies and governments reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

SDTGA is a public awareness program including 60-second and 30-second television and radio public service announcements (PSA) that NSWMA also developed with support from the OSHA. To request a broadcast-quality copy of the television or radio ads, contact Biderman (davidb@envasns.org or 202.364.3743). In addition to this television PSAs, NSWMA is making SDTGA decals available that haulers may put on their trucks to remind motorists to drive carefully. NSWMA makes the decals available to interested parties at no charge. Haulers can obtain SDTGA truck decals by contacting sales@neihauscorp.com or 859.331.3733).

NSWMA – a sub-association of the Environmental Industry Associations – represents for-profit companies in North America that provide solid, hazardous and medical waste collection, recycling and disposal services, and companies that provide professional and consulting services to the waste services industry.