safety: Include the Customer in Your Safety Plan

Making your transfer station, material recovery facility (MRF) or landfill site safer and more user-friendly can pay dividends for your customer and save money by preventing injuries and potential lawsuits.

Most transfer station, MRF and landfill safety plans include site and construction personnel. But often, the part about customers is not very comprehensive or is missing - despite the fact that customers are the largest group of people who use your site.

Customers can't attend training, so site signs, rules and personnel must guide them. Safety information flyers and rule enforcement also may be necessary.

Falls cause most site injuries. Often, a fall occurs when a customer attempts to pull materials off of a truck or trailer. The materials come loose; the customer loses his or her balance and falls to the ground or into a waste disposal trench or pit.

Causes of injuries, in order of frequency, are:

* falls;

* cuts or puncture wounds from sharp or pointed objects;

* vehicle accidents; and

* eye injuries, especially from flying objects.

Most severe injuries are vehicle/equipment incidents, with the general public the biggest problem because they have the least off-loading experience.

So how do you prevent injuries from occurring at your site?

* Implement good rule development and warning signs. Site rules can be printed on customer receipts or attached to them. Signs must be sized and placed carefully so customers can read them easily (see chart). Bilingual signs may be necessary.

* Guide customers in site use. But don't tell them how to unload waste material you don't know how the waste was loaded, and you take on some liability if you tell them what to do.

* Use flyers. Rather than specify the equipment and methods for off-loading waste, flyers should notify customers that they are responsible for off-loading waste, as well as suggest how to prevent problems.

* Separate commercial customers from the general public's dumping area. Some landfills use separate areas for the public. Others have commercial trucks dump at the operating face with the public off to the side.

* Separate landfill and transfer station equipment from customers as is practical to minimize conflict. And if a pit or trench is used for storage or all-weather disposal, identify them with signs and wheel stops. The advantage of a pit or trench is that the tipping pad has minimal wear because the site equipment only operates in the trench.

When the site equipment is near customers, however, use a horn. The only disadvantage to this type of operation is that if customers fall, they may fall a few feet farther. Small sites usually need trenches of about 4 feet, while larger sites may need deeper trenches to accommodate several public vehicles.

* Enforce site rules. Site personnel should warn people performing dangerous acts. Management has ultimate control of the site and can deny its use to serious offenders.

For example, a site supervisor observed two men unloading a trailer. When one of the men fell but was not injured while pulling off yard debris from the trailer, the site supervisor cautioned that pulling materials was unsafe. The men then began lifting the material. However, one man climbed on top of the unstable mass. The supervisor warned that working on top of the yard debris was unsafe. The man climbed down, but later climbed on top again and fell shortly after, injuring himself.

No legal action resulted because the supervisor had noted unsafe practices and called them to the customers' attention. He further noted that the accident involved alcohol, as evidenced by a case of empty beer cans in the load and alcohol on the customers' breath.

While these steps are excellent ways to keep customers safe, they cannot be implemented unless site staff is thoroughly trained and the safety program is practical for the operation.

Acquisitions J.V Manufacturing Inc., Springdale, Ark., has purchased Recycling Equipment Service (RES), Sacramento, Calif. RES will be integrating with the service/sales offices J.V. opened in Sacramento.

Superior Services Inc., West Allis, Wis., has acquired Missouri Disposal Partners, Galt, Mo., and will handle operations and administration for it as well as Maple Ridge Landfill in Macon, Mo. Superior also has acquired Longview of Livingston County, Bethany, Mo., and Weaver Sanitation, Punxsutawney, Pa., as well as Alabama Waste Systems Inc. and Acmar Regional Landfill Inc., both in Moody, Ala.

Metropolitan Environmental Inc., Celina, Ohio, has purchased assets and operating locations of Ametech Inc.'s subsidiary Environmental Transportation Services Inc.

The following must be observed

NO SMOKING while driving and in the dumping area.

NO SALVAGING of dumped material.

OBSERVE ALL SPEED LIMIT and traffic signs.

DANGEROUS PRACTICES, such as rapid backing of vehicle to dislodge loads are prohibited.

CHILDREN, PETS AND OTHERS not unloading must remain in vehicle. Drivers and helpers must remain in vicinity of vehicle.

DUMP only in areas designated by landfill personnel.

TOOLS, TAILGATES, ETC. must be kept on, in or under your vehicle. The districts will not accept liability for damage to these items.

INJURY OR DAMAGE to persons or equipment must be reported prior to leaving the site. Do not move damaged vehicle prior to report.

LOAD PULL-OFF is a service accepted at your own risk. The Districts are not liable for vehicle damage or personal injury.

LITTERING on areas within the site will not be tolerated. COVER ALL LOADS.

HOURS OF OPERATION are rigidly adhered to.

HIGHLY FLAMMABLE WASTES such as solvents, thinners or magnesium are NOT ACCEPTABLE.


LOITERING within the site is prohibited.

INSTRUCTIONS of district facility personnel must be followed at all times.

These rules are for your benefit. Serious and/or frequent violations may result in your exclusion from District facilities.