- According to information obtained by the Daily Mail, the number of attacks on collection workers in England has more than doubled from 117 in 2012 to 309 in the most recent fiscal year.
- While some incidents are more minor, such as shoving or verbal altercations, others are serious. Incidents have been reported of collection workers being grabbed by the throat, chased down the street, threatened with a gun and even followed by a man with a Samurai sword.
- Residents often grow angry when collection workers refuse to take their material that isn't properly sorted or is above the standard quota. Some incidents have also occurred when residents had to wait behind collection trucks on the street.
This news come after England announced its plans to crack down on growing recycling contamination, a move which some residents see as too heavy-handed. The Local Government Association was quick to say this aggressive behavior toward workers was unacceptable and indicated it may push for jail sentences to protect them, but some local union officials weren't convinced.
"No one should have to suffer verbal abuse, threats of violence or physical attack because of the job they do. Councils should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to anyone who tries to abuse or intimidate their staff in this way," said Heather Wakefield, head of local government at trade union Unison, to the Daily Mail. "The blame lies largely with Government spending cuts that have led to council funding being slashed by 40%"
While this issue hasn't been as widespread in North America, these types of incidents do happen. The state of New York made it a felony to attack sanitation workers on the job in 2012 and similar laws should be considered in any states that don't have them. Collection workers already have enough hazards to worry about while keeping safe on their routes every day — potentially violent customers shouldn't be one of them.