The waste and recycling collection industry is a necessity for modern day life. It is also one of the most dangerous. In fact, the waste and recycling industry is the 5th most dangerous occupation in the United States. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), workers in solid waste collection were also in the top three job classifications to have the highest number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses, most caused by overexertion, being struck-by, striking against, or being compressed in equipment.
Safety is expensive. Without it, a single accident could be enough to bring down an entire company. Properly enforced, it comes with recurring costs for training, equipment, and extending time on the job to make sure it’s done the right way without cutting corners. Either way, money will be spent. This begs the question: when does it make the most sense to spend money on safety?
When the average citizen sees a waste collection crew rumbling down the street, they probably don’t realize that they’re witnessing people engaged in the fifth-deadliest occupation in America. Refuse and recycling materials collection is preceded only by roofing, aircraft piloting, fishing, and logging in the ranks of most dangerous occupations.
According to OSHA, 25% of waste management-related accidents are the result of slips and falls when drivers and helpers enter or exit vehicles. Another 25% of accidents occur when trucks and equipment are backing up.
Trucking companies and truck drivers must cope with a variety of working conditions, including variable weather and traffic conditions, boredom, and in-cab distractions. Add the problem of sharing the road with erratic drivers and you have a recipe for a potential tragedy.
The transportation industry logged 279.1 billion miles in 2014 according to American Trucking Associations’, with over 400,000 truck accidents each year. More than 70% of these accidents are the fault of the NON-commercial driver, with only 16% due to the truck driver's fault. These statistics just address incidents with other moving vehicles.