The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released 2017 figures for industry and occupational fatality data. In its 2017 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, the BLS reported that fatalities of all U.S. workers remained flat in 2017. In the public and private waste and recycling industry, fatalities declined from 31 in 2016 to 30 in 2017.
“This should encourage our industry to continue its commitment to the organizational programs implemented over the past year to strengthen the culture of safety. The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and our members won’t stop looking for opportunities to improve and we will never accept any loss. Zero is possible,” said NWRA President and CEO Darrell Smith.
Over the past three years, NWRA and its chapters nationwide have successfully lobbied for “Slow Down to Get Around” legislation, which is now the law in 22 states. These laws require that motorists slow down when waste and recycling collection vehicles are stopped and workers are getting on and off, just as motorists are required to slow down in construction work zones, or stop for school buses, or pull over for emergency vehicles.
“Carmakers should make it their goal to reduce distractions in the car. You shouldn’t be able to order dinner from your car’s infotainment center,” said NWRA’s Vice President for Safety and Standards, Kirk Sander. “As we continue to make our industry safer, we urge the motoring public to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”
NWRA and its members have undertaken numerous initiatives that represent a comprehensive approach to improving safety for workers in the waste and recycling industry, including:
· Hosting safety seminars in cities nationwide for haulers, processors and other stakeholders in the waste and recycling collection process;
· Development of safety manuals for use by drivers and workers in the industry;
· Temporary worker safety training;
· Safety Monday — A bi-lingual poster sent each week to member companies with important practical tips to prevent accident and injury;
· Commercial vehicle safety inspection briefings and demonstrations;
· Online safety webinars and education sessions at industry conferences to promote sharing of best practices;
· NWRA serves as the Secretariat for the waste & recycling industry’s ANSI standards- covering the safe design, manufacture, maintenance and use of equipment used in the industry; and
· Investigating additional public policy solutions
The BLS data on workplace injury and illness is published annually, and information on the waste and recycling industry is based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition of the waste and remediation services industry (NAICS Code 562) as “solid waste collection, hazardous waste collection, other waste collection, hazardous waste treatment and disposal, solid waste landfill, solid waste combustors and incinerators.” A copy of the BLS announcement can be found at www.bls.gov.