Keeping Workers Safe

NSWMA and WASTEC work to increase employee safety in several ways

The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) and Waste Equipment Technology Association's (WASTEC) safety program helps companies and local governments reduce the frequency of fatalities, injuries and accidents. All over the United States, haulers and others use NSWMA and WASTEC safety materials for training, coaching and increasing public awareness about employee safety.

Safety Monday

Each week, we send Safety Monday to all of our members by e-mail. A one-page newsletter, Safety Monday provides information about recent accidents involving a solid waste vehicle, identifies safety hazards associated with a task, or provides new data on how the industry is performing. Safety Monday is frequently posted in employee work areas, and is often used at safety committee meetings and toolbox talks. Several consultants use Safety Monday as part of their safety training programs.

Be Safe, Be Proud Videos

Five years ago, NSWMA and the Environmental Research and Education Foundation (EREF) obtained a grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop training materials for solid waste employers and employees. NSWMA and EREF have created four safety videos that use actual workers and equipment to depict real world situations.

The videos use humor, music and a compelling story line to hold viewers' attention. About 1,500 videos have been distributed to local governments, private haulers and disposal facilities. The videos now are available in English and Spanish. Additional information is at

ANSI Standards

WASTEC is the secretariat for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z245 Committee on Equipment Technology and Operations for Wastes and Recyclable Materials. These important safety standards are a fundamental building block for safe hauling, processing and disposal operations.

ANSI subcommittees meet frequently to discuss ongoing issues and to update the standards. OSHA can issue citations for violating the standards under its "general duty clause" authority, so companies and local governments need to be knowledgeable about the content of these standards. Contact Craig Wallwork at [email protected] for more information.

Slow Down to Get Around

Several years ago, two Rumpke collection employees were struck by motorists in a single week. One was killed, the other seriously injured. In response, Rumpke developed the "Slow Down to Get Around" program to increase public awareness about driving carefully near solid waste vehicles and employees. Earlier this year, NSWMA embarked on an effort to nationalize the program. NSWMA created and ran radio ads promoting the program, developed and is distributing a DVD containing a public service announcement suitable for television, and is providing free "Slow Down to Get Around" truck decals to local governments and haulers.

The frequency of motorists crashing into solid waste collection vehicles and employees appears to be increasing, and NSWMA is committed to making the driving public aware of the safety hazard they pose to waste and recycling collectors.


In August 2008, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released industry-specific fatality data for the waste industry for 2007. The BLS data showed that the number of solid waste collection fatalities declined from 37 in 2006 to 18 in 2007. This remarkable improvement took solid waste collectors off the "top 5 most dangerous employers" list for the first time in years!

The injury rate for the industry has been declining by about 7 percent annually over the past few years. Hopefully, these trends will continue as more companies and local governments receive and use NSWMA and WASTEC's safety materials. While many larger companies have their own excellent safety programs and resources, many smaller companies and sanitation departments rely on Safety Monday and other NSWMA-WASTEC safety offerings to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities.

There are numerous other components of the NSWMA-WASTEC safety program, including our partnerships with Concorde (drug and alcohol testing) and MPRI (driver simulator training), NSWMA's regional and customized safety training classes, OSHA compliance assistance and Coaching the Reuse Driver II. For more information, go to or contact David Biderman at [email protected].