As an economical tool for efficiency, powered tugs or pushers are also the right safety tools to help your employees move a heavy dumpster without causing serious injury or damage to property.

By Jeremy Nuehring

An empty dumpster can weigh between 500 and 1,000 pounds. When it is full of trash, especially compacted trash, it can weight 2,000 to 2,500 pounds. Moving these heavy, unwieldy dumpsters through narrow doorways, across rough, uneven pavement is dangerous. Navigating dumpsters up inclines, through snow and slush, or across wet surfaces dramatically increases the risk of some of the most common injuries such as back and shoulder strains, slips and falls, pinched fingers and crushed toes, lacerations and broken bones. Even under the most ideal weather conditions injuries still occur.

Not only is manually moving dumpsters risky, but it is also time consuming. Due to the high risk for injury, most property management companies (and their insurance companies) require that at least two employees move dumpsters out of the trash room for hauler pick up. This means multiple maintenance technicians are allocated to carry out this daily task and prevents other responsibilities, such as tenant requests, from being attended to, creating a lack of efficiency.

Injuries and Damages

We consistently hear that the trash room is the #1 area of risk at mid/hi-rise multi-family properties. Insurance statistics bear that out—the highest incident of injuries in multi-family properties occur in the trash room, and it is most often related to moving dumpsters. The most common injuries are back/shoulder strain related to pushing heavy, trash-packed dumpsters out of the trash room across rough surfaces, long distances or up inclines. Maintenance personnel also commonly experience pinched fingers from pushing the dumpster out of narrow trash room doorways and down hallways. And, of course, slips and falls are common. The dumpster is heavy, the floor is wet, dirty or slippery and that is when slips and falls happen.

The average insurance payout on a worker’s comp claim resulting from an injury in the trash room at a multi-family property is more than $41,000. However, where the real pain is felt is in the worker’s comp insurance premium that the customer pays, which will increase by more than $120,000 over the next three years.

Another consideration is property damage. Once a heavy dumpster gets rolling, it is a mistake to try and get in front of it. As a result, damage to the building can occur from runaway dumpsters as well as to automobiles—from dents to punctures.


The reason that property management companies are so concerned about safety goes beyond the well-being of their employees. The implications of a work environment that does not take advantage of safety tools that are available results in both efficiency and economic gaps. When one of the maintenance staff has a “lost-time” injury and cannot come to work the next day, the property has to either “share” an employee between two properties or hire temporary staff to cover the injured workers shift. In either case, the “new” employee will be much less efficient than an employee who is familiar with the property and the residents. Further, hiring a temporary employee will always cost more on an hourly basis than the regular employee. Both economics, in the form of the staffing budget at the property and efficiency related to familiarity with the property, will be impacted. Not to mention the fact that the residents will suffer longer wait times for repairs and maintenance visits.

Considering the Alternative

Due to the high incident of injuries related to moving dumpsters, a number of large property management companies have modified their “Waste Policy” to state that at least two employees are required to move dumpsters. Considering the cost of an injury and the related insurance premium spike, this is a no-brainer economically. But from an efficiency perspective, is it a real drain. That is why some of these same property management companies have modified their waste policy to state that at least two employees, or a powered tug, are required to move dumpsters. Now, with the proper safety tool—a powered tug or pusher—one employee (of any age, size or gender) can move those heavy dumpsters out of the trash room, safely, resulting in a 50 percent efficiency boost.

Insurance Companies like Marsh McLennan, ICW and The Hartford recommend that their insured companies use a powered tug or pusher to move dumpsters, calling it a “best practice” to reduce injuries in the trash room. In addition, these powered tugs or pushers lower the cost of employees’ injuries and if there are no more claims, the insurance premiums go back down, lowering costs of not only worker’s comp claims, but also property damage issues.

The Right Safety Tool

Powered tugs or pushers are the right safety tools to help your employees move dumpsters more efficiently in a building’s dumpster room, multi-family complex or even any other location. They can safely move a heavy dumpster without causing serious damage to your employees or property, while being an economical tool for efficiency. With these tools, you can save the world—one trash room at a time.

Jeremy Nuehring is the Senior Sales Engineer for DJ Products (Little Falls, MN) and has been in the waste and material handling business for 10 years. He can be reached at (800) 686-2651.