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Safety a primary focus for SWANA

Association encourages industry-wide safety initiatives, training and dialogue

Safety a primary focus for SWANA

Most people are not aware that waste collection employees are more likely to die in a workplace accident than fire fighters or police officers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, waste and recycling collection workers have the 5th most dangerous job in the country.

The waste industry’s presence in every community means that this statistic affects us all. Through education and training, coupled with a more open dialogue about industry-wide safety challenges, SWANA is working hard to move waste collection off the list of top 10 most dangerous occupations.

“It is simply not acceptable that our industry has such a high fatality rate, and is involved in so many frequent accidents,” stated David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director. “We want everyone in the industry, in both the public and private sectors, to go home safely to their families at the end of their workday.”

At WASTECON 2016 in Indianapolis, IN, SWANA will host the 4th Annual Safety Summit, a series of technical sessions focused on safety best practices within the industry. Moderated by leading industry professionals, these sessions range in topics from changing employee behavior to risk assessment, and more. New to this year’s event will be the presentation of SWANA’s inaugural Safety Awards celebrating excellence in innovation and improvement. This new program, sponsored by Golder Associates, will recognize the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) and Aria Energy for their commitment to improving employee safety.

Another highlight of this year’s programming will be the release of a white paper on the safe use and maintenance of natural gas vehicles (NGV) in the solid waste industry. This collaboration between SWANA and NGVAmerica will provide basic knowledge of NGVs, emphasize safety parameters, and recommend proper maintenance and operation. With more than 50% of new refuse trucks today being fueled by natural gas, this document will help improve both safety and awareness of this important component to reducing transportation costs and environmental impact.

“I’m very pleased that we have expanded the safety offerings at WASTECON to include new awards, release of the NGV white paper, and a strong Safety Summit,” added Biderman. “We will also be holding the inaugural meeting of our chapters’ Safety Ambassadors, where members from throughout the United States and Canada will exchange ideas about how we can make the industry safer. This will be a regular feature at future SWANA events.”

SWANA safety initiatives extend beyond WASTECON. The “5 to Stay Alive” campaign continues with the addition of a new poster listing 5 key tips for improving safety for landfill employees. Along with SWANA’s 5 to Stay Alive – Collection resources, these can be hung up at landfills, offices, garages, or anywhere else one needs to keep safety at the forefront. They are also great for use in weekly or monthly safety meetings.

SWANA is proud to be a driving force behind improving safety awareness throughout the solid-waste industry in the United States and Canada, and is optimistic that through increased education and commitment at all levels, our workers can come home safely every day.

For more information on SWANA’s Safety Matters program, please visit

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