More than 100 waste and recycling industry professionals from both the private and public sectors came out to share best practices in New York City last week as part of a NYC Waste & Recycling Safety Symposium.
The symposium, which was developed jointly by the National Waste & Recycling Association and the Solid Waste Association of North America, featured tracks aimed at operators and strategists and covered topics including industry driver safety, dealing with distracted drivers and pedestrians and how to create safety cultures in workplaces.
Presenters included experts from Action Environmental group, Waste Connections, Wintre Bros., Mr. T Carting, Coca Cola, AT&T, Fresh Direct, DCAS/Vision Zero, Lytx Drive Cam, Concorde, SWANA and the NWRA. New York Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia; Business Integrity Commission Commissioner Daniel Brownell and New York City Councilman Antonio Reynoso also spoke at the event.
Garcia lauded the association-spearheaded effort. “I look forward to having regular meetings to continue to exchange best practices between the public and private sectors,” she said.
Garcia and Brownell also discussed the effort to bring side guards to trucks in the city. Side guards physically cover the exposed space between the front and back wheels of trucks and can prevent pedestrians from getting pinned beneath back wheels. Brownell said 10 waste and recycling companies in New York City have applied to have their trucks retrofitted with side guards and close to 500 trucks have been outfitted with the devices.
A session entitled 10 Things Drivers Need to Know to Improve Safety included David Biderman, executive director and CEO of SWANA; Tony Hargis, national safety director with the NRWA, Paul Zambrotta, partner, Mr. T. Carting and Ken Levine, director of safety at the Action Environmental Group.
"One of the reasons SWANA and NWRA have come together is the heightened importance in the industry on safety,” Biderman said. “We can't do enough to ensure our workers and the public are safe."
The event also stressed that the industry’s workers are on the front lines when it comes to increasing safety and that they ultimately also have the most knowledge to share in helping achieve better numbers.
“You guys are the subject level experts on everything your company needs to know on safety,” Hargis said.
The panelists talked about the fact that one of the issues is that pedestrians and other drivers often seem oblivious to the industry’s trucks.
“There are two types of people: People that don't know and the people that don't care,” Zambrotta said, explaining that some people don't seem to realize the kind of damage a truck can do to them or their vehicle. Others just assume that sanitation trucks will always yield for them, and they will pass in front of or cut off trucks.
Distracted pedestrians are “going to step out from behind parked cars and they are going to walk against lights,” Levine said.