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BLS Industry Fatality Data highlights importance of remaining vigilant on safety in waste and recycling

Progress has been made but still much to do to get waste collection industry off top-10 most dangerous jobs list

BLS Industry Fatality Data highlights importance of remaining vigilant on safety in waste and recycling

Refuse and recyclable materials collection remains the 5th most dangerous job in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The 2015 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, released December 16th, shows that the rate of fatalities among waste collection workers has risen since 2014. According to the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) the results of this report highlight the necessity and value of ongoing safety programming within the industry.

The 2015 BLS data for collection workers shows a rate of 38.8 fatalities per 100,000 full-time employees, up from 35.8 the year before. This continues an upward trend in the rate since 2012.

“Although we feel we have been making progress, this data shows we are not yet where we need to be,” stated Luann Meyer, Safety Ambassador of SWANA’s New York Chapter. “We have to keep making safety a top priority.”

SWANA continues efforts to educate and advance awareness for better industry safety practices through its integrated Safety Matters program and access to free safety-focused resources online and in-person. The Safety Matters webpage is an online resource portal that serves as a central place for SWANA members and other industry professionals to access the latest in safety news, important safety materials and upcoming safety events. Included on the webpage is information about each of SWANA’s safety initiatives – including the Safety Ambassador program, Slow Down to Get Around decal distribution, Safety Awards – and direct links to outside resources, such as the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

“We are not surprised by the BLS data, as we track all fatalities in the U.S. and Canada involving waste personnel and equipment. There’s lots of work to be done to get the waste collection industry off the list of top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S.,” said SWANA Executive Director and CEO David Biderman. “With our Safety Matters webpage and frequent workshops across the country, our goal is to provide the helpful and necessary resources to contribute to reducing accidents and injuries in the industry. Nothing we do is more important.”

SWANA’s 5th annual Safety Summit, as part of SWANApalooza 2017 in Reno, Nevada on March 27-30, 2017, will provide special sessions focused on safety throughout the waste management cycle. Starting with the collection of materials and continuing through processing, landfilling, composting, and recycling, industry experts will discuss how safety can and should be a core value in all waste industry operations. This curated program track will provide a look at the state of safety today and provide attendees with great new techniques for building a positive safety culture.

“Unfortunately it’s the nature of the business that our workers are exposed to increased risk with heavy equipment and the types of work they are doing,” stated David Horne, SWANA’s Pennsylvania Eastern Region Safety Ambassador. “The solid waste industry needs to keep fighting the fight, as far as safety is concerned, so we can start moving in a positive direction from year to year.”

For more information on SWANA and its #SWANAsafety Matters program, please visit SWANA.org/safety.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 8,500 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education, advocacy, and research. For more than 50 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications, and a large offering of technical training courses. For more information, visit SWANA.org.

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