Safer Streets

The injury rate for solid waste collection workers declined last year, according to numbers compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor and distributed by the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA). According to the department, the injury and illness rate for collection workers dropped to 6.1 percent in 2009, down from 7.7 percent the year before.

The injury rate for landfill workers rose from 5.5 percent in 2008 to 5.9 percent last year. In 2006, the injury rates for both collection employees and landfill workers were 8 percent, according to NSWMA.

"The sharp decline in collection injuries validates the efforts that NSWMA and many companies are making to improve safety performance," said David Biderman, NSWMA's safety director, in a press release. "However, the slight increase in landfill worker injuries demonstrates we need to keep looking for ways to keep industry employees safer. We need to continue striving for additional safety improvements in the future."

For more on these numbers, read "Safety in Numbers," Biderman's "Safety First" column in this issue.

The good news about the injury rates comes just a couple of months after the Labor Department released similar numbers on fatality rates in the solid waste industry. According to the department, the number of fatalities among all "waste management and remediation service employees" — a category that includes both collection and landfill workers — declined from 74 in 2008 to 43 in 2009, a decrease of 42 percent.

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