Americans tend to think of Sweden as a snow-covered mecca in northern Europe—a place where people cross country ski to work, wear cable-knit sweaters, and eat lots of meatballs. But the Swedish people have made many weighty contributions to the global society—everything from the centigrade thermometer (Anders Celsius was Swedish) to dynamite (Alfred Nobel), the universal pipe wrench, the zipper, and cars such as Volvo. Vision Zero is among their latest contributions, and it reflects a unique point of view on road safety.
With deadlines to meet, customers to please, and budgets that can often be tight at best, safety can easily take a back seat to cheaper, faster short-cuts. Anyone who has ever dealt with the aftermath of an on-the-job accident or fatality will be the first to attest that not only should safety be in the front seat, it should be the driver.
In the past decade, telematics devices have become common place in company vehicles and fleets. Less common however is employee understanding on why their driving is being monitored. Often, employees are under the assumption that someone is constantly looking over their shoulder, just waiting for them to make a mistake.
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.