- The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) recently released a "Hauler Safety Toolkit" that it aims to spread throughout the industry for operators of all sizes — both public and private. “I believe this is the most important safety initiative of 2018 that SWANA is undertaking," CEO David Biderman told Waste Dive. “This is reaching all the drivers in virtually every state and every province in North America."
- The toolkit is seen as a starter kit for companies that don't already have strong safety cultures in place, or complimentary messaging for those that do. It includes material such as the "5 to Stay Alive" safety tips, "Top 10 Backing Best Practices" and a safety pledge for employees to sign. This includes guidance around American National Standards Institute rules for riding on rear steps, wearing personal protective equipment, doing pre-trip inspections and other key actions.
- SWANA's goal is for all 45 of its chapter safety ambassadors to begin distributing this material, and setting up events to highlight it, over the summer. The Ohio chapter is expected to be among the first to do so. Takeaways will be shared at WASTECON in August.
While much of this material is already out in the public domain or has been highlighted in previous initiatives, SWANA believes making a concerted effort to distribute a streamlined version takes the effort to another level. By highlighting support from both the Ohio county government and Republic Services in its press release, the association is hoping to cast a wide net and catch smaller companies as well.
"We do believe that there are hundreds — if not thousands — of smaller companies that don’t have a positive safety culture, that don’t have a full-time or even part-time safety director, that don’t have a lot of in-house safety expertise," said Biderman.
Though measuring results from this type of voluntary initiative can be difficult, and Biderman recognizes that SWANA won't be trying to test workers about the toolkit's information, spreading the message as widely as possible is still seen as a valuable effort.
“It’s our hope that over time we will see the fatality rate in this industry decrease through actions such as this initiative," said Biderman, highlighting on one metric to watch.
Figuring out how to reduce that fatality rate remains a top priority for all involved, especially with expectations that the annual 2017 data could be similar if not worse than 2016.
In addition to worker and employer training, "Slow Down to Get Around" legislation has also been a key focus for groups such as the National Waste & Recycling Association and SWANA. This angle of reducing worker exposure to third-party hazards was highlighted in a new NWRA policy paper on distracted driving, which called it "the greatest threat to the lives and safety of waste and recycling drivers and workers, leading BLS to name them as the fifth most dangerous occupation."