Monday marked the beginning of the National Waste & Recycling Association’s (NWRA) Safety Stand Down.
It’s a week-long training and awareness effort in which participating companies will conduct risk assessments at job sites and review safety policies and procedures for backing; review company policies, procedures, consider enhancements and then train employees on any changes; and post Stand Down materials to company websites, in employee meeting rooms and on social media sites.
“We are proud of the commitment of our members, sponsor and partners to work together to raise the bar for safety in our industry,” NWRA President & CEO Sharon H. Kneiss said in a statement. “We are working to raise awareness and elevate our performance as we focus on the importance of a safe environment for our workers and the communities they serve nationwide.”
Nearly 50 companies had joined the Stand Down as of January 15, according to the NWRA. NWRA is being joined by several regional waste and recycling associations including the California Refuse and Recycling Council, the Oregon Refuse and Recycling Association, the Washington Refuse and Recycling Association. In addition the International Scrap Recycling Institute and the Solid Waste Association of North America also support the effort.
“Backing incidents comprise about 25 percent of all accidents and injuries in the waste industry, and it is important to focus on backing, both during the safety stand down and throughout the year,” SWANA Executive Director David Biderman said in a statement.
The Safety Stand Down week culminates a flurry of activity within the industry aimed at improving conditions.
One factor behind the emphasis is that refuse and recyclable materials collectors continue to rank in the top 10 in terms of civilian occupations with the highest fatal injury rates,according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014, the rate was 35.8, ranking it the fifth most dangerous profession.