Sanitation workers perform a valuable service for the rest of us by picking up our often hazardous trash. However, they risk serious injuries and death every day they go out on the road. Many people may not even be aware of how they endanger garbage workers by seemingly innocent acts such as throwing kitty litter in the garbage.

Injuries and Health Hazards Faced by Garbage Collectors Daily

While some dangers encountered by sanitation workers could be prevented through training in safe riding and backing up procedures and with better safety equipment, other hazards are unavoidable because they are in the garbage being collected. Common causes of sanitation worker injuries and health problems include:

  • Trip and Falls. Workers must jump in and out of their trucks multiple times while collecting trash. They suffer many falls in the rush to get to the next garbage can or on slippery roadways, resulting in fractures, spinal injuries, and serious head injuries.
  • Lifting injuries. Even with more automated garbage trucks, workers must often lift heavy garbage. Lower back strains, hernias, shoulder injuries, and bruised knees are just a few of the injuries caused by lifting objects that are too heavy for them.
  • Vehicle-related injuries. Sadly, garbage collectors picking up trash risk being hit by their own garbage truck when the driver does not see them, resulting in suffering serious injuries and death. In addition, vehicle collisions are another common cause of workers’ injuries.
  • Hazardous materials. People place many hazardous materials like bleach, pesticides, and hypodermic needles in their trash. Kitty litter is often just thrown directly into the garbage can. Workers exposed to cat feces can develop toxoplasmosis, a disease that attacks the nervous system. They can also suffer injuries, infections, poisoning, burns, and lung damage from the unavoidable exposure to all these toxic substances.
  • Dangerous objects. Sanitation workers suffer many cuts and other serious injuries when they pick up trash containing glass, light bulbs, metal blades, and other sharp objects.
  • Pests. Trash can be filled with rats, mice, roaches, and other animals searching for food. Exposure to these vermin—even if they are dead—can cause workers to suffer bites, rabies, rat-bite fever, and other diseases.
  • Crushing accidents. While more automated garbage trucks can eliminate some of the heavy lifting workers must do, they are more at risk of being crushed or otherwise injured by the compactor or front-end loader.

Sanitation workers injured on the job could be entitled to compensation for their lost wages and medical bills under workers’ compensation. If you were injured at work, check out my case results to learn how I have helped many people just like you. And call me at 877-360-0183 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer