Alaska city changes ordinance to ensure collection worker safety

Fairbanks, Alaska, code requires residents to dispose of hazardous waste, ashes and sharps in separate containers.

July 17, 2017
Waste Today Staff

The city of Fairbanks, Alaska, is updating its city codes to ensure the safety of its waste collection employees, a report by the Daily News-Miner says. According to Jeff Jacobson, director of Fairbanks Public Works, half of the city’s collection workers have been punctured by hypodermic needles at some point in their career.

The city code amendment will require residents to separate their waste into specific containers. If a resident repeatedly breaks the amendment, a fine will be added to his or her quarterly garbage bill. Medical sharps, such as hypodermic needles and lancets, will now be put into plastic containers such as bleach or detergent bottles. The bottles should be clearly labeled as “sharps” and placed outside the curbside bin or dumpster. Jacobson says the public works department will provide containers if necessary.

The report says residents are also now required to place cold ashes into a separate bag outside the dumpster or curbside bin and hazardous materials, such as poisons, pesticides, oil or material that could cause injury, should be placed in separate containers, then in cardboard boxes and set outside receptacles.

If residents fail to follow the new rules, the report says, they will first be warned by a phone call notifying them of a code violation and an explanation of how to properly dispose of the waste. A second violation will cause a $25 fine for improper disposal of ashes or hazardous materials and $200 for improper disposal of sharps.

Multifamily residents also must keep their dumpsters clean and prevent odors. A violation for this will cause a $25 fine as well. Oversized waste rates will also increase to $85.

Public works officials plan to distribute fliers to residents explaining the code change and proper disposal.