- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will begin requiring companies to submit injury and illness data on an annual basis, which will then be made public. The new rules take effect on Aug. 10 and data submissions will begin next year.
- Waste haulers had the fifth-highest fatality rate of all civilian occupations in 2014, with 27 deaths reported. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 3 million workers suffer injuries or illness at their jobs across all industries every year.
- BLS statistics aren't fully comprehensive and while OSHA requires companies to keep incident logs, that information isn't fully reported. This new data will allow OSHA to create the first comprehensive data set on injuries and illnesses. The goal is for researchers to study this data and identify trends to help create safer workplaces.
This move toward transparency and accountability could have major implications for the waste industry. The hope is that employers will be encouraged to emphasize safety in order to attract customers, employees, and investors, as OSHA has compared the new system to restaurant inspection grades. This data will help OSHA target specific employers who need help with compliance as well. The rule also includes language that will promote employees' right to report injury or illness without fear of retaliation.
Trade associations have placed a renewed emphasis on safety in recent years in an effort to protect workers and improve public perception. The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is currently conducting a confidential survey to gather data on workplace incidents in 2015. The association hopes this will give a more detailed picture of safety issues than the BLS data. Results will be released at this year's WASTECON.
Additionally, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) is holding a "Safety Stand Down" this week to raise awareness about water, rest, and shade during the summer season. NWRA is also co-hosting a safety symposium in New York on June 16 with SWANA. While this event has been planned for months, a controversial new report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health has brought greater attention to the issue.