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Safety First

Safety First: A Date with Safety

Article-Safety First: A Date with Safety

The excitement about this year’s WasteExpo started in late 2011 and has only increased during the first few months of this year. Haulers, local government officials, equipment suppliers, consultants and just about anyone with a connection to the solid waste industry is likely to be in Las Vegas from April 30 to May 3. For both private and public sector representatives, WasteExpo offers an unparalleled opportunity to recognize the safest drivers in the industry, learn about safety issues, network with safety managers and other peers, and learn about products that can help reduce fatalities, accidents and injuries.

The conference program includes seven safety-related sessions on three days that will provide attendees with useful information that they can take back to their employees. These sessions include how to address worker exposure to chemicals and sharps in the trash, incentive programs, and a small haulers safety roundtable at which industry leaders from smaller companies that do not have a full-time safety manager will share how they address safety-related challenges.

Two sessions will be particularly useful, and WasteExpo attendees are urged to attend both of them. On Tuesday morning, there will be a session on the revised American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z245 safety standards developed through the Waste Equipment Technology Association (WASTEC). Several of these revised standards, including the important Z245.1 standard governing waste collection vehicles, will have been released before WasteExpo. Several others, including a proposed standard addressing safety issues at transfer stations, also will be discussed.

The second “don’t miss” session is on Wednesday morning, when attendees will hear about the updated Environmental Industry Associations (EIA) Manual of Recommended Safety Practices. The revisions to this important industry safety publication, which will be released in mid-2012, are being funded through generous contributions from members and a grant received from the Environmental Research and Education Foundation. (Thanks, EREF!)

The EIA Safety Committee also will be meeting at WasteExpo. Last year’s meetings attracted more attendees than in previous years, and we expect this year’s meeting also will be well attended. The preliminary agenda includes recent changes to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Hours of Service and cell phone rules, an impending Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rulemaking proposal requiring employers to have an “Injury and Illness Prevention Program,” and a review of the proposed revisions to the EIA Safety Manual.

Of course, another great reason to attend WasteExpo is to walk the exhibit hall, where there will be a substantial number of exhibitors selling safety-related equipment and services. These exhibitors include insurance providers, personal protective equipment manufacturers, backup safety system providers, decal manufacturers, consultants and others. The “traditional” exhibitors of trucks, disposal equipment, balers and compactors have made changes to their equipment in recent years to improve safety performance, and I suspect the personnel in their booths are eager to show them off to you.

The goal for everyone in this great industry, whether they are a small hauler, one of the large national companies or a municipal sanitation department, should be to improve their safety performance. WasteExpo provides a unique opportunity to learn and obtain tools to help you reduce the frequency of fatalities, accidents and injuries.

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