Safety improving in waste collection industry

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the improvement is consistent across industries.

Today, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its 2017 Employer-Reported Injury andIllness Report showing improvements in safety within the solid waste collection industry consistent with the national trend, according to an analysis conducted by the NationalWaste and Recycling Association (NWRA), Washington. There were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017, which occurred at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. This represents an improvement of 0.1 injuries per 100 FTE workers from 2016.

The waste and recycling industry as a whole had a steady rate of 5.0, while solid waste collections dropped 0.1, similar to the national data. The material recovery facility rate increased from 6.0 to 9.8.

BLS data for to the waste and recycling sector show:

NAICS code 562, Waste Collection, held steady at a rate of 5.0.

NAICS code 562111, Solid Waste Collection, declined from 5.2 to 5.1, similar to the national rate.

NAICS code 56292, MRFs, rose from 6.0 to 9.8.

“Today’s BLS release of industry injury and illness data illuminates the progress being made to improve safety performance nationwide but shows we still have work to do,” says NWRA president and CEO Darrell Smith. “Since our Board of Trustees designated safety as a strategic initiative, NWRA has worked to provide its members with tools and outreach efforts, as well as collecting our own data from members to monitor trends in safety.”

At the urging of NWRA Chapters, 22 states have passed slow down to get around laws that help protect drivers and helpers when collecting refuse. In a written release, NWRA urged the other 28 states and the District of Columbia to pass similar Slow Down to Get Around laws to protect not only waste collection workers, but also tow truck drivers and other workers who work under amber lights.

Additionally, NWRA says it is beginning to work with truck and MRF technology partners to understand opportunities to further safeguard employees.  One such example of this is the transition to Automated Side-Load (ASL) trucks to serve communities.  This not only keeps the employees in the cab and saves lives (rather than being exposed to traffic), but it also reduces injuries and improves recruiting and retention.

The NWRA Safety Committee is meeting in Knoxville, TN on Nov. 13 to discuss mitigating the effects of distracted driving.

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