Drop-off programs for electronics and household hazardous waste are common across the U.S. More recently, mobile shredding events have become popular, allowing people to destroy confidential documents. These safety tips will help keep workers and participants safe while waste items are being dropped off at the event.
By Will Flower

Household hazardous waste collection events, electronic waste drop-off sites, and mobile document destruction programs are typically one- or two-day events where residents can bring certain wastes to a centralized location for proper treatment and disposal. While the types of wastes collected at drop-off events will vary, a common element in all drop off programs is that residents drive and deliver their wastes to drop-off centers where workers remove materials from vehicles.

Employees directing traffic and working at drop off events should wear high visibility shirts or vests and always be alert for moving vehicles.
Photos courtesy of Will Flower.

Special Precautions
With hundreds and sometime thousands of vehicles delivering waste to a drop-off location, special precautions are needed. The following suggestions will help to keep workers and programs safe:

Chemists or
technicians should segregate materials for proper packaging and transportation.

1. Educate Residents—In addition to promoting the dates and hours of operation for drop-off programs, residents should also be told what is allowed to be delivered to the drop-off center and what materials are prohibited. Typically, materials like ammunition and explosives are prohibited. Be as detailed as possible.

2. Transportation Safety—Provide information explaining how to package and transport household hazardous waste to drop off centers. Residents should be reminded to:
• Pack household hazardous waste items in sturdy cardboard boxes to avoid spillage.
• Secure lids and make sure containers are not leaking.
• Place box(es) of household hazardous waste in the trunk or the rear of the vehicle.
• If possible, avoid having passengers in the vehicle while transporting household waste to a drop off center.

3. Signage—Residents arriving to the drop-off center should be guided by big signs providing clear directions.

4. Employee Training—Employees working at the drop-off center should be trained in traffic safety, proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), fire prevention and emergency spill procedures.

5. Use PPE—Workers interacting with people who are delivering materials to a drop-off center should wear Personal Protective Equipment including high-visibility vests, proper footwear and eye protection.

6. Be Ready for Spills—At some point, a vehicle will arrive with a leaking container. Workers should be prepared and have the tools needed to safely manage the spill with absorbent material and
absorbent pads. At some special events, the local fire department may be on scene to manage spills and emergencies.

7. Traffic patterns—When it comes to traffic, one way is the best way. Creating a clear traffic pattern will help people enter and exit the site to keep traffic flowing. Traffic cones and barricades are helpful tools to direct drivers through the process.

8. Keep Participants in their Vehicles—Drivers and passengers should remain in their vehicle at the drop-off center. Workers can remove the household hazardous waste, e-waste or confidential documents from the vehicle without the driver exiting his or her vehicle.

9. Safe Storage—Even common products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special care. Therefore, onsite chemists and trained
technicians are needed to sort and segregate wastes to prevent fires or chemical reactions.

10. No Salvaging—Scavenging, salvaging or taking any waste from a drop-off center should be strictly forbidden.

11. Special Shredder Care—The shredder operator should be properly trained to safely operate the machinery. The operator should not overload the shredder. If the shredder gets jammed, turn the unit off before clearing the jam.

12. Have Fire Protection Plan—Fire extinguishers should be readily available and all workers should be trained in the proper use of extinguishers. Following these simple safety tips can help to ensure collection events will be safe for participants and employees. | WA

Traffic cones and barricades can help direct participants through a citizen drop-off area.

Will Flower is the Senior Vice President of Corporate and Public Affairs at Winters Bros. Waste Systems. Will has 37 years of experience in the field 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.