- The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, listing refuse and recyclable material collection as the occupation with the fifth highest fatality rate, behind logging workers, fishers, aircraft pilots, and roofers. The occupation also ranked fifth in the 2013 report.
- The data shows that there were 27 worker fatalities in 2014, which is a drop from 33 worker fatalities in 2013. However, the 2014 fatality rate increased to 35.8% from 33% in 2013.
- A preliminary total of 4,679 fatal work injuries were recorded in the United States in 2014, an increase of 2 percent over the revised count of 4,585 fatal work injuries in 2013.
While the number of fatalities in the waste industry decreased from 2013 to 2014, the fatality rate actually showed a 2.8% increase. Although these numbers are puzzling, the explanation may be that there were fewer workers in the refuse collection occupation from 2013 to 2014. No matter the numbers, SWANA CEO David Biderman says that work still need to be done to make the waste industry more safe.
"The truth is that we're still the fifth most dangerous occupation and we still have a lot of work to do to make sure that people in both the public sector and private sector from coast to coast have the resources they need to make sure their front line workers are working safely," said Biderman. "SWANA will continue to expand its efforts to provide meaningful safety resources to solid waste employers and employees in both the public and private sectors. 27 is still too many [fatalities]."
Both SWANA and the National Waste & Recycling Association are working to develop safety programs that affect industry employees and the general public. The Slow Down to Get Around initiative has spread across the nation as a platform to increase driver awareness around refuse collection trucks. Additionally, SWANA announced in August that it will begin collecting safety data from municipalities a part of a renewed emphasis on worker safety.