According to recent reports by the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of injuries by solid waste collection workers continued to decline in 2008. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that the injury rate during 2008 for both solid waste collection and landfill employees continued to decline, as it has in recent years. Similarly, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that there was a decline in OSHA citations issued to the solid waste industry during FY 2009.
The BLS report indicates that the injury rate for solid waste collection workers decreased marginally to 7.4 from 7.5 per 100 full time employees, and that the injury rate fell dramatically for landfill company employees from 7.1 to 5.4, a 24 percent reduction.
In its industry-specific enforcement data for Fiscal Year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009), OSHA reported that 279 citations were issued to the U.S. solid waste industry, with about $250,000 in penalties assessed. The number of citations compares very favorably with FY 2008, when 445 citations were issued and more than $333,000 in fines were assessed. As in previous years, violations of the Hazard Communication, Lockout-Tagout and Respiratory Protection standards were the most common citations issued to solid waste companies.
“The BLS and OSHA reports demonstrate that the commitment to improving safety performance by senior management, safety managers and others within America’s solid waste companies is making a difference,” said Bruce J. Parker, president and CEO of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA). “Our members’ operations strongly emphasize safety and reject any notion that accidents and injuries are part of doing business in this industry.”
NSWMA Safety Director David Biderman stated, “We should celebrate this progress, but also need to keep looking for ways to keep industry employees safer. The BLS data reports 12,000 recordable injuries to solid waste employees nationwide in 2008. We need to keep striving for additional safety improvements in the future.”
Biderman urges all haulers and governments to participate in NSWMA safety programs, including the Slow Down to Get Around (SDTGA) program, and communicate the importance of working safely to their employees. NSWMA produced 60-second and 30-second versions of a television ad with support from the OSHA. To request a broadcast-quality copy of the television or radio ads, contact Biderman (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.364.3743). In addition to this television PSA, 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 email@example.com or 859.331.3733).
To learn more about how you can help protect yourself and keep garbage men safe on our roads, visit www.environmentalistseveryday.org/safety
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. NSWMA members conduct business in all 50 states.