Safety First
Safety First: Transcontinental Training

Safety First: Transcontinental Training

February may be the shortest month of the year, but for the National Solid Wastes Management Association’s (NSWMA) safety program, it was one of the busiest. NSWMA provided five separate training programs, including sessions for drivers and helpers, supervisors and “train the trainer” events for managers and safety personnel.

The front line training occurred at a medium-sized NSWMA member in Virginia. When I agreed to provide this training, I expected an early start to the day, but was surprised when the company’s safety director asked that I arrive by 4:15 a.m.! The 30-minute program reviewed backing, distracted driving and the importance of wearing a safety belt and personal protective equipment (PPE). The supervisor training which followed focused on how to perform route observations of drivers and helpers and the importance of coaching employees. A substantial portion of this program was derived from NSWMA’s Be Safe Be Proud – For Supervisors safety video, which emphasizes these important points.

In late February, NSWMA held a regional safety seminar in Florida. About 75 people, including representatives from small haulers, local governments and regional/national companies attended. This event reviewed the leading causes of fatalities, accidents and injuries in the waste and recycling industry and how to prevent them. NSWMA’s 2012 data, which included an increase in the number of third-party fatal accidents (mostly other drivers) was discussed. The program also included a review of current OSHA and DOT regulatory and enforcement issues and an update on the ANSI Z245 safety standards. Using numerous video clips and photos, we discussed how to engage front line workers and make safety an integral part of their day.

The previous day, NSWMA provided a short safety program at a member company. This event was populated almost entirely by workers from small companies who are not NSWMA members and are less aware of the ANSI standards and other industry best practices. One attendee joined NSWMA on the spot and ordered 600 “Slow Down to Get Around” stickers for his containers! I wish every attendee at an NSWMA safety program shared his enthusiasm.

NSWMA also provided safety training in Arizona last month. We held a two-hour program for the city of Scottsdale and a similar session the following day for SWANA’s Arizona chapter. It really doesn’t matter whether you work in the private sector or public sector, or work for a national company or a municipal sanitation department with five trucks, we all have the same objective: every worker should go home to their families, every day, with no injuries. The Arizona sessions provided similar information as the Florida safety seminar, including ample use of videos.

The need for these sessions was confirmed by the steady stream of fatal accidents experienced by the solid waste and recycling industry throughout February. There were at least 15 fatal accidents last month, including five incidents  in which the other driver crossed the center line and had a head-on collision with a truck. There have been 16 third-party fatalities in the first two months of 2013. NSWMA will provide safety sessions at WasteExpo and will be expanding its safety program later this year to help companies and local governments reduce the frequency of these tragic events. 

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