Fatalities among solid waste collection workers declined markedly in 2009 when compared with 2008, according to statistics recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor.
In its "Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries," the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says there were 31 fatalities among solid waste collection workers (the bureau includes both refuse and recyclable collectors in that category) in 2009. The number represents a 39 percent decrease from the year before, when 19 fatalities among collection workers occurred, according to BLS.
The number of fatalities among all "waste management and remediation service employees" — a category that includes both collection and landfill workers — declined from 74 in 2008 to 43 in 2009, a decrease of 42 percent, according to BLS.
"We are very pleased that the solid waste industry reduced the number of workplace fatalities in 2009," said National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) Safety Director David Biderman in a press release. "According to NSWMA data, the leading cause of waste collection worker fatality is being struck by another vehicle, and we will continue to work with members, regulators and others to educate the public about this hazard. Seven collection workers were killed in struck bys in 2009, and there have been at least four fatal struck bys so far in 2010."
"A substantial and disproportionate number of the fatalities in 2009 occurred at small haulers who are not NSWMA members, and this trend has accelerated in 2010," Biderman added.