At least 59 solid waste industry workers in the United States and Canada died on the job in 2018, a jump of around one-third on the previous year, according to the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA).
Of these accidents, 57 took place in the US and 71% occurred during waste or recycling collections. According to SWANA, so-called ‘struck by’ incidents are the most common cause of fatality overall, followed by collisions and roll-over incidents. These represented nearly 50% of all worker deaths. About 10% of the victims were on the riding step when the fatality occurred. The cause of deaths at landfills, MRFs and transfer stations is more diverse, typically through being struck by heavy machinery.
‘Slow-down’ laws needed
industry’s safety record in 2018 is not acceptable with at least 19 more worker
fatalities than in 2017,’ says SWANA’s ceo David Biderman. ‘Most of last year’s
increase involved collection workers, despite the industry’s success in getting
states to pass “slow-down” laws and SWANA’s efforts to improve safety on the
route, as well as at recycling facilities.’
The association calls on local authorities, private companies and others to put more effort into improving safety ‘to protect the lives of those working in this industry’.
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