- The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) is moving along on its three-year plan to affect marked improvement in the industry's safety performance across all sectors, which includes a target to reduce fatalities by 50% in that timeframe.
- Industry professionals recently returned from NWRA's two-day March Summit, where they learned from safety experts while accomplishing establishment of workgroups, work plans, and timelines for reaching goals.
- NWRA plans to carry out three primary strategic initiatives over the next three years: move collection off the top 10 most dangerous occupations list, focusing on areas like education and information sharing; reduce distracted driving by working with groups who have established tools to address this problem; and tap into existing opportunities to collaborate and create new ones with regional or national associations, such as SWANA and ISRI, to come up with themes and approaches to adopt as an industry.
Solid waste collection is the fifth most dangerous job in the country according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report, with the 2014 fatality rate being reported as 35.8%. There are hardly consecutive weeks that go by where a work-related fatality or injury does not make headlines, and sometimes the accidents involve people other than the solid waste worker — including people sleeping in garbage trucks or pedestrians.
While the risk is high, these accidents are preventable with the proper training and education.
"Safety is a vital priority for the waste and recycling industry — our focus is to significantly improve our safety performance and reduce injuries, accidents and fatalities on the job," the NWRA stated in a release, adding the association emerged from the Summit with a "strong plan."
The association is joined by other organizations and efforts such as SWANA's Safety Ambassador program, identifying one member per chapter to take a safety leadership role.