Traffic patterns at solid waste facilities must be designed to accommodate a wide variety of vehicles ranging from small pickup trucks to large transfer trailers. As trucks move in and out of the facility, a smooth, logical traffic pattern will keep vehicles moving and enhance the overall safety of the facility.

By Will Flower

There are a surprising number of people walking around solid waste transfer stations, recycling centers and maintenance facilities. At any given time, there could be employees, contractors, vendors, inspectors and delivery people at a site. Additionally, some facilities conduct public tours for adults and children requiring extra precautions to protect visitors who may not be aware of potential hazards.
The biggest threat to pedestrians at solid waste sites are vehicles such as trucks, forklifts, payloaders and other wheeled vehicles. However, vehicular traffic is not the only threat. Pedestrians must be protected from trips, slips and falls as well as falling objects (especially in bale storage areas).
The following safety tips will keep pedestrians safe:

  • Use Personal Protective Equipment including high visibility clothing.
  • Provide training to equipment operators and have drivers and operators pay special attention to people who may be on foot near machines.
  • Limit the number of people near equipment. Keep people away from the tip floor and away from the active face of the landfill.
  • Provide training to workers who are working around rolling stock (large and small). Employees should be educated to avoid and use extreme caution when in or near blind spots, danger zones and equipment crossing areas.
  • Install clearly marked pathways for workers to walk in transfer stations and MRFs.
  • Make sure backup alarms and lights on equipment are working properly.
  • Operators should make sure all the windows on their equipment are clean and clear.
  • Use signage to alert pedestrians of potentially hazardous situations. Signage is especially important on loading docks and stairs.
  • Review work areas, walkways and stairs to ensure adequate lighting. Lighting is an important part of pedestrian safety. People need to see where they are walking.

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls
Pedestrians should have a clear pathway to walk. OSHA requires that permanent aisles and passageways be free from obstructions and appropriately marked where mechanical handling equipment is used (Source: 29 CFR 1910.176(a)). This involves marking out walkways and removing obstructions and trip hazards.

Most slips are caused by wet or oily surfaces, weather hazards (including snow and ice), loose rugs or walking surfaces that do not have same degree of traction in all areas. The most common causes of tripping include: obstructed view, ground clutter including wires, ropes or cords, uneven floor surfaces and uneven stairs, and wrinkled mats or carpeting.

Keeping walkways and work areas clean and orderly will help reduce the risk of trips and slips. Spills should be immediately cleaned up. Wet floors should be identified as such using signage to warn employees of the potential hazard.
Having an effective pedestrian protection program is critical for protecting employees, contractors, inspectors and others who may be walking at the site. Pedestrian protection requires that everyone work together to stay alert for risks. Managers and employees must make certain that the work environment is as safe as possible and raise any concerns regarding pedestrian safety.

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Will Flower is the Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Winters Bros. Waste Systems. Will has 35 years of experience in the area of solid waste management and environmental protection. He has held operational and executive leadership positions at the Director’s Office of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Waste Management, Inc., Republic Services. Inc. and Green Stream Recycling.

Share your safety tip. Submit your suggestions to Will Flower at will@wintersbros.com.

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