Sanitation Worker Safety

October 22, 2019

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) reported that about 30 sanitation workers died from January to July of this year from workplace injuries. Out of these, 27 occurred in the United States, while three occurred in Canada. Although 2019 showed a slight decrease when compared to last year, the data is still concerning. SWANA’s Executive Director and CEO stated that solid waste collection is the fifth most dangerous job in the U.S. There are significant fatality risks, plus the chance of injuries from exposure to hazardous materials. He emphasized the importance of reducing the number of incidents that impacted their workers.

How Injuries Occur

Sanitation workers often jump off and onto trucks and lift heavy items, which can lead to falls and other injuries. Also, many do not wear protective equipment and clothing that can protect them from hazardous materials. Even though many collection trucks use automated equipment, some workers are still faced with having to manually load the garbage into their trucks. Some municipalities have weight limits on this but do not enforce them. Oftentimes, workers become complacent and do not stay focused on their work. This can lead to distraction, which is especially dangerous around moving equipment and vehicles.

On-the-Job Safety

SWANA recommends sanitation workers never use cellphones while collecting, while driving garbage trucks, or when at disposal facilities. They also urge drivers to buckle up their seat belts. All workers should also wear personal protective equipment in high-visibility colors to alert others of their presence.

Modern garbage trucks use automated side-loaders, which limits the dangers of manual lifting and hazardous materials. This allows one worker to pilot the truck and operate the side-loader, which also means that they do not have to exit the vehicle. Some of these trucks also have rearview cameras and other features that enhance visibility, and employees should use them constantly for their protection and for others.

Republic Services is one of the country’s largest providers of recycling and waste disposal services, and their “Focus 6” safety program targets the most common industry incidents. Republic Services provides involved operations and safety trainings for their employees. In addition to classroom and on-hand teaching, workers must finish a skills course and work with supervisors before working on their own.

Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Represent Injured Sanitation Workers

If you need a lawyer because you suffered an on-the-job-injury or illness, do not hesitate to contact a trusted Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. for effective legal guidance. Call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete an online form for a free consultation today.

Located in PhiladelphiaBensalemLansdowne, and Reading, we represent injured workers in Berks CountyBucks CountyChester CountyDelaware CountyMontgomery CountyPhiladelphia County, and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of AbingtonAmblerArdmoreBala CynwydBensalemClifton HeightsCrum LynneDarbyDowningtownDoylestownDrexel HillEssingtonFolcroftGlenoldenHaverfordHavertownHolmesKutztownLansdowneMediaMerion StationMortonNarberthNorristownNorwoodPhiladelphiaProspect ParkQuakertownReadingRoxboroughSharon HillUpper DarbyWest Chester, and Wynnewood.