Solid Waste Industry Experienced Unprecedented Increase in Fatal Incidents in January 2019

"The surge in fatal incidents involving solid waste personnel and vehicles in January is unprecedented in my 20-plus years in the industry and is unacceptable," said David Biderman, executive director and CEO of SWANA.

As of Jan. 22, at least 17 fatal incidents related to the solid waste industry in the United States and Canada have taken place in 2019. In response to this increase in fatalities, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has issued an urgent call for a renewed focus on safety.

"The surge in fatal incidents involving solid waste personnel and vehicles in January is unprecedented in my 20-plus years in the industry and is unacceptable," said David Biderman, executive director and CEO of SWANA. "Regardless of who was at fault, each incident is tragic, and we urge all solid waste employers and employees in the United States and Canada to review their safety procedures and operations, and commit to being safer in 2019."

There is no common factor for the cause of all of these fatal accidents, but according to SWANA, taking time to review safety essentials will likely help prevent future incidents. The organization calls for solid waste employers and workers in the United States and Canada to share the accident data and review their safety training and operations.

Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2017 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries identified 30 fatalities among refuse and recyclable material collectors, making it the occupation with the fifth-highest fatality rate in the United States.

In response to the 17 industry-related deaths within the first 22 days of 2019, SWANA said will continue to focus on expanding its safety program to raise awareness and move solid waste collection off of the list of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S.

More information on SWANA’s safety programs can be found here.

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