BLS: Injury, illness rates down for waste industry but still above average

Dive Brief:

  • New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the rate of nonfatal injury and illness among workers in the "waste management and remediation services" category dropped from 5.1 per 100 in 2014 to 4.5 per 100 in 2015. This is still higher than the national average of 3 per 100.
  • Within a subcategory for collection employees the rate went down from 7.1 per 100 in 2014 to 6.6 per 100 in 2015. The rate of cases with days away from work also decreased.
  • The overall rate across all occupations continued to steadily decrease as it has since 2003. Approximately 2.9 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses were reported for the year.

Dive Insight:

This report is better than last year, when injury and illness rates increased, but still leaves much work to be done.

"What we see in the 2015 BLS data is favorable for the waste and recycling industry, reflecting the continuing safety efforts of industry companies," said Bret Biggers, director of statistics and standards for the National Waste & Recycling Association, in a statement.

BLS has continually listed waste collection as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country and that is evident when looking closer at past data. According to data compiled by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), 38 workers died on the job between July 2015 and June 2016. BLS will be releasing more data about nonfatal injury and illness cases which require at least one day away from work in November. Data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries will also be coming out in December, and both releases will be key indicators of how much progress the industry has made on safety.

Both SWANA and NWRA have been working to highlight these numbers while also providing safety education throughout the year. NWRA has had good participation in its series of Safety Stand Downs and Safety Professional Development Series, among other initiatives.

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Filed Under: Collections & Transfer Regulation
Top image credit: NWRA