- On Nov. 28, two people were killed after a BMW and garbage truck collided, causing an explosion and fire in Inwood on Long Island, NY. Authorities said the two people inside the BMW were injured so badly it will be difficult to identify them. The garbage truck driver was taken to the hospital.
- Days later, a 1995 GMC garbage truck struck and killed an 84-year-old woman in Manhattan who was crossing the street. The driver, who was not injured, stayed on the scene. Authorities are investigating the incident.
- These tragedies happened at a time when solid waste management is considered one of the most dangerous niches in the nation, an issue that SWANA and NWRA say will be a top industry focus in 2016.
In September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the waste and recycling collection occupation ranks fifth for fatalities. While fatalities in 2014 were down from 2013, they remain a problem; 2015 brought no improvements, and the industry is focusing on bringing change.
"SWANA will continue to expand its safety program and develop resources and tools for employers and employees in both the private and public sector," said SWANA CEO David Biderman."We look forward to partnering with other organizations who share our commitment to getting the waste collection industry off of the federal government’s list of 10 most dangerous occupations, and preventing these tragic incidents. Nothing we do is more important."
The safety focus is not new, but has been heightened recently.
"We have successfully passed Slow Down to Get Around in 10 states [requiring traffic to slow down around waste or recycling vehicles], and we continue our efforts for passage in additional states," said NWRA president and CEO Sharon Kneiss.
But despite states’ adoption of safety legislation, and emerging safety technology such as in-car cameras, Kneiss said data from the BLS and NWRA call for new approaches and new action.