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Safety First

The Safety Triangle

I have been using the concept of the “safety triangle” to communicate the importance of three elements of safety: the stakeholder collaboration side; the education, training and certification side; and the regulation, standards and company policy compliance side. These safety triangle concepts were demonstrated at the National Waste & Recycling Association’s (NW&RA) Waste & Recycling Industry Conference in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

On the stakeholder collaboration side of the triangle, a hauler’s roundtable was conducted with safety professionals who shared, collectively, 150 years of industry wisdom, as they discussed the issues of greatest concern to the industry and potential solutions. 

On the education, training and certification side, NW&RA’s Certification and Education Committees met to discuss their current projects and identify future goals. 

And on the regulation, standards and company policy compliance side of the triangle, industry-specific American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard Z245 subcommittees met to discuss changes to drafts that will be voted on by the ANSI Z245 Accredited Standards Committee later this year.

The panelists for the first Hauler’s Safety Roundtable conducted discussions regarding safety issues to a standing-room- only crowd. Distraction, ergonomics of the truck cab and the potential for changing lifting apparatus used in automated collection were some of the topics that were addressed during the discussion. Two safety working groups will be formed from NW&RA Safety Committee members in response to the roundtable discussions: one to look at cab ergonomics and one to look at potential redesigns to the lifting apparatus. Anyone who is interested in participating in either of these working groups should contact me at [email protected].

Another topic of interest that surfaced during the event concerned compliance with safety and health requirements when temporary workers are employed under the joint (or dual) employment of a staffing agency and a host employer. Because of high industry demand for labor, an oft-used solution is to utilize staffing agencies to accelerate the hiring process and deal with human resource needs. In this joint employment structure, questions about which employer is responsible for particular safety and health protections are common. Both employers are responsible to some degree for determining the conditions of employment and for complying with the law. The concerns arise from the lack of training and experience exhibited by many of the temporary workers and how the industry, NW&RA and staffing agencies could address these shortcomings in the future. Potential solutions were discussed and will be addressed by the NW&RA Safety Committee over the next year.

From the compliance side of the triangle, the ANSI standards meetings were well attended, quite lively, and with good movement and lots of work completed throughout. The ANSI Z245 Subcommittee on Facilities finished changes to ANSI Z245.41-2008 Facilities for the Processing of Commingled Recyclable Materials—Safety Requirements (MRF Standard) for ballot by the ANSI Z245 Accredited Standards Committee. The revision, which will be ANSI Z245.41-2014, includes new definitions and consistent equipment signs and labeling. A new section on facility electronic controls has been added as well as implementation dates of the standard for new materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and training requirements for all workers and operators.

Training and employer requirements sections will be effective 12 months after the approval date and facilities placed in operation 18 months after the approval date of standard shall be designed, constructed and operated in accordance with the requirements of this standard. MRF designers, manufacturers, installers, owners and operators should incorporate the new requirements of the standard as they plan for new facilities that will become operational when the standard is effective.

From the education, training and certification side of the triangle, both the NW&RA Education and Certification Committees met with good attendance. The certification process for the new Driver Safety Certification is in beta-testing mode and is progressing at a fast pace thanks to input from industry subject matter experts (both drivers and safety professionals). The Environmental Research and Education Foundation and the NW&RA agreed to develop a joint certificate program to support the transition that a collection worker faces when moving to a supervisory role.

Most attendees from the record-setting crowd indicated that it was one of the better industry events they had attended, and were pleased with the safety focus. 

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