Residents depend on the trash pickup service to take away rubbish. What many people don’t think about is that the men and women who do this job face serious risks each day while they try to get the trash collected. It is up to the refuse company to ensure that they are providing a safe work environment for these workers.
While some of the hazards for garbage collection professionals are similar to ones that others face, there are a few that aren’t. Understanding these can help employers to keep their employees safe as they do this important job.
The traffic around the trash truck poses a risk. Many drivers aren’t as careful as they should be, so the workers are at risk of being struck by a passing vehicle. Wearing reflective clothing can help to alert drivers that there are workers in the area. The trucks should also have lighting that draws attention to it.
Many garbage trucks use lifts to pick up the dumpsters, but there are times when the workers have to pick items up. If these can’t be handled using the claw, proper lifting techniques must be used. This means having more than one person to pick up large items like furniture. When manual lifting is necessary, the workers should always use their knees and not their back. Any signs of a back injury, even if it is a cumulative trauma injury, should be immediately addressed.
Garbage often contains hazardous materials. Some might actually be forbidden by collection guidelines, but many people don’t pay attention to those rules. Wearing long sleeves, work pants, heavy gloves, and steel toe boots can help to prevent some injuries that come from these materials. They should be careful with all bags and waste they come into contact with. Things like pesticides and other chemicals can lead to respiratory troubles, burns or poisoning.
Many days, garbage collecters have to hang on to the garbage trucks in the rain. Even wearing slip-resistant shoes might not be much help if the ground is slick. These workers need to be sure they have good footing when they get out of the truck to pick up trash. Even the step on the side of the truck can get slippery in the rain.
An injured garbage truck worker will probably need to get medical care right away. Workers’ compensation provides coverage for these employees. Their medical care and prolonged time off work are covered for eligible employees who have compensable injuries.