- The UK's refuse industry is instructing garbage truck drivers on how to avoid accidents where homeless people are crushed in compaction units. UK waste management company Biffa reported its workers found 175 people sleeping in bins in the current financial year, up from 31 in 2014. 11 have been killed in the past five years, according to the Environmental Services Association. And as homelessness becomes more widespread there have been more people sleeping in bins even in warmer months.
- In greater than 40% of reported incidents, workers first noticed the person after the tipping process started.
- Some of the region’s trash haulers are working with homelessness charities to help them get the word out to homeless people of the risks of sleeping in bins. One company, Veolia, produced an educational film on the issue to increase awareness.
As homelessness rises in the UK, more people are sleeping in waste bins for security from the elements and from people who harass them. This has placed trash crews in a very stressful situation — one that requires keen awareness.
"Everyone is acutely aware of the homelessness situation, and our drivers are faced with this on a daily basis. It is massive. No organization wants to be responsible for the injury or death of another person. Every time it happens, it sends a shock wave through the whole industry," said Tim Standring, Biffa’s health and safety spokesman, as reported in The Guardian.
The company has had drivers check every bin before emptying it for 15 years now, and other of the regions trash haulers implement similar "people in container" checks.
The problem is very apparent in the United States, too. Just three weeks ago, an Ohio man was found in the back of a garbage truck after he was crushed to death in the compactor. Similar tragedies have also happened in Allentown, PA, Chico, CA, and elsewhere.
Both the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) have called attention to the issues, with advice for haulers such as lowering the radio volume when dumping a container to hear better should someone be in a trash receptacle, pausing for a few seconds before compacting a load, and avoiding pushing containers forward after dumping should a person be between the container and a wall.