Sanitation work is by its nature dirty and dangerous work. Some hazards cannot be avoided—such as exposure to pesticides, broken glass or sharp metal, and dead animals. However, employers could reduce other dangers sanitation workers face if they would just implement safety measures.

Five Safety Practices That Would Protect Sanitation Workers

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has many recommendations that would prevent worker injuries, especially from vehicle-related injuries or crushing injuries where workers get crushed by the garbage truck equipment. They recommend the following:

  • Hazardous areas. Workers need training to recognize the dangerous areas around the garbage truck where the driver may not be able to see other workers jumping off or on the truck to prevent the driver from accidentally hitting a co-worker.
  • Safe Riding Procedures. Employers need to implement safe riding procedures that include proper mounting and dismounting from riding steps and safe backing up procedures.
  • Safety equipment. Sanitation workers should be provided with highly-visible colored clothing, slip-resistant footwear, and protective eyewear.
  • Employee safety technology. Safety technology should be utilized, such as small compressed-gas horns worn on employees’ belts and used to warn co-workers if they slip and fall. Two-way radios would help workers on foot communicate with the driver.
  • Sensor technology. Sensor technology that sounds an alarm inside the cab when a person or object is in the path of the backing vehicle should be installed on all garbage trucks to prevent the tragedy of a driver backing over his fellow worker.

Until employers take sanitation worker safety more seriously, employees will suffer workplace injuries and death. Fortunately, they could be entitled to compensation for their lost wages and medical bills under workers’ compensation. If you were injured in a workplace injury, call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer
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