by: Leslie Jones
According to aol.com, Refuse and Recyclable Material Collector ranks #8 on the 2013 Top 15 most Dangerous Jobs list. This is an improvement over the 2012 list, where it held the #4 position in the list of Top 10 Most Dangerous Jobs.
List25.com ranked Sanitation Workers as the #7 most dangerous in the world and listed it before such jobs as Search & Rescue, Linemen & Power Workers, Firefighters, Police Officers, and Roofers.
Think these rankings can’t possibly be true? Statistically, waste collection ranks high on these lists due to caustic chemicals; inhaling dust, smoke and fumes; broken glass; medical waste; objects falling from an overloaded container; and, most dangerous of all, traffic accidents involving drivers who have left their trucks.
In recent years, an industry-wide standard was put into place requiring garbage truck drivers to remain in their vehicles at all times, or at least as much as possible. “There are, unfortunately, reasons drivers need to be out of their trucks, but as soon as they can, they are to get back in the truck. This prevents the problems before they can happen”, says a spokesman for Borden Waste-Away.
Reasons drivers would be out of their vehicles include picking up extra bags outside a customer’s container, truck maintenance, cleaning up spilled trash, and trouble with equipment.
Waste Collection ranks near the top of other lists, as well. The Most Underappreciated, The Most Demanding, and Most Physical.When we put our trash out for collection, go to work, come home, and it’s gone, we tend to forget the time, energy, and effort that went into making it magically disappear.
Collecting trash and/or recycling usually involves incredibly early hours, with most residential routes beginning by 6:00 a.m.; very long hours, averaging over 40 hours per week; enduring inclement weather, heat factors upwards of 100 degrees and wind chills below zero; and heavy lifting, some bags averaging 40 - 50 lbs. Any of these conditions can be present on any day of their work week. In fact, more likely than not, trash collectors face one or more of these factors every day of their career.
When we experience extreme weather that is highly unpredictable, it can be very difficult to determine when it is safe for Waste Collection to resume. The week of January 6th presented owners and managers of service-oriented industries with some critical decisions, considering that some services are needed regardless of weather. Ultimately, air traffic was grounded, some local police were ordered to remain at the police station unless a call came in, and waste collection routes were at best delayed for 2 days, or in Borden Waste-Away’s case...cancelled altogether.
“With one days’ service cancelled, we are able to absorb it just as we do a holiday week and run the routes one day late. When we’re mandated to cease all trash and recycling services for 2 days...that’s where we run into trouble making it up.”, states a spokesperson for Borden Waste-Away. “In order to stay DOT compliant, the drivers are not able to work 10 days straight, which is what it would have taken to run 2 days behind.” ***Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Part 395--Hours of Service of Drivers***
With a company philosophy of “Safety is the first priority in everything we do”, a very unpopular decision had to be made to cancel Monday’s and Tuesday’s trash and recycling routes. Although this decision would mean that many customers would be disappointed or upset, safety prevailed.
Considering the inherent dangers of waste collection as a career, “There are rewards to this job and working with people and serving them is right toward the top.” For more information on waste collection and recycling, visit our website at www.wasteawaygroup.com.