- The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has identified ten separate fatal accidents across the United States, each involving a refuse truck, in March alone. SWANA CEO David Biderman has called this surge in fatalities "unacceptable."
- The Association has launched several free safety resources aimed at reducing these accidents, including a backing toolkit and "5 (Tips) To Stay Alive" guidelines. Additionally, SWANA has pushed the "Slow Down to Get Around" initiative, which has been implemented in multiple states across the nation.
- While refuse collection has been listed as the fifth most dangerous occupation for multiple years, SWANA is not accepting such fatalities as normal. "We are working with several associations, companies, and local governments on safety-related educational projects, reflecting our view that safety is not proprietary, and that it will take leadership, collaboration, and teamwork to make this industry safer," said Biderman in a statement.
The occurrence of truck-related fatalities in the waste and recycling industry has become numbingly common, and despite efforts to increase safety across the industry, it is becoming apparent that more needs to be done.
SWANA has noted that it is especially difficult to reduce accidents because many times, such accidents are not at the fault of the waste driver or helper.
"Our increased focus on safety is consistent with SWANA’s Strategic Plan and is the right thing to do. Our members have embraced SWANA’s new safety initiatives, and our new Safety Ambassador program will improve the industry’s safety culture at the chapter and local levels," said SWANA President Michelle Leonard in a statement.
The industry has also seen fatalities in many accidents not related to trucks, including incidents at recycling facilities and landfills. It is crucial for industry leaders and workers to reflect on such accidents and ensure that the correct steps are being taken to save the lives of other workers in this field.