When I joined EIA in 1997, I had no idea how many wonderful people I would come into contact with, or how much I would learn from them, in this great industry. This has been particularly true in connection with EIA’s safety program, where I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of dedicated safety professionals and provide instruction to thousands of front-line workers, supervisors and others in the waste and recycling industry over the past decade.
I have been inspired by many of you. People like Susan Eppes, who truly was my mentor in the early years as I tried to master the nuances of the industry. Leaders like Larry Stone, who are totally and irrevocably committed to worker safety, and devote their time, energy and resources to improving the industry’s safety performance. Professionals like Garry Mosier, who always has time for a discussion about products or systems for reducing accidents and injuries. And the municipal driver who recently told me, during a break in one of our safety seminars, that he was going to stop texting while he was driving the truck.
Even though technically it is not my job anymore, I still get pissed off when I read about a preventable accident. When I read our daily news clips, my first thought is, “Please don’t have any articles today about a fatal accident involving our industry.”
As you may have heard, EIA recently hired Phil Hagan as its new safety director. So this is my final safety column for this magazine. Penton and Waste Age have asked me to write a periodic column on regulatory and legislative issues, reflecting my new role and responsibilities at the association. I will likely focus on the state and local issues that are at the heart of EIA’s advocacy program, though I may stray into OSHA and DOT issues occasionally, perhaps out of habit.
As I complete the handoff of the EIA Safety Program to Phil this month, it is worth noting what we have accomplished: A widely read and useful weekly newsletter (Safety Monday); expansion of the Slow Down to Get Around program; frequent safety training programs that thousands have attended over the past decade; the Be Safe, Be Proud video series; a seat at the table at federal meetings and conferences involving waste and recycling safety issues; state agencies and other trade associations looking to EIA for guidance on worker safety issues.
Perhaps the most unusual compliment that our safety program received is from the unnamed EIA member that told me it posts each issue of Safety Monday in the bathroom over the urinals. Although the location is somewhat unorthodox, I admire the creative way the employer gets its workers to read it. Phil and others at EIA are hard at work developing new safety and certification programs to reduce accidents and injuries. Working together, creatively, we will accomplish our goal to make the waste and recycling industry safer.