NWRA to Host First-ever Safety Symposium at WasteExpo

Waste360 spoke to Kirk Sander of the National Waste & Recycling Association about what WasteExpo attendees can expect to take away from the first-ever NWRA Safety Symposium.

Mallory Szczepanski, Vice President of Member Relations and Publications

April 24, 2019

4 Min Read

Safety is top of mind for the waste and recycling industry, and at this year’s WasteExpo, held May 6-9 in Las Vegas, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) will bring the topic of safety to the forefront via its first-ever Safety Symposium.

Held on Thursday, May 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PT, the Safety Symposium will provide WasteExpo attendees with knowledge and a plethora of best practices to improve their safety efforts. In addition, the symposium will highlight some of the regulatory updates that are affecting the industry and how legislation like Slow Down to Get Around can help keep industry employees safe on the job.

Ahead of the Safety Symposium, Waste360 sat down with Kirk Sander, vice president of safety and standards for NWRA, to discuss what attendees can expect to take away from the symposium and some of the topics that will be covered.

Waste360: What topics will be discussed during the Safety Symposium?

Kirk Sander: The Safety Symposium will cover topics like new safety solutions, regulatory updates, proven industry safety programs, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance, transportation safety, how to build a safety culture while wearing many hats and more. All of these topics go hand-in-hand with our goal to provide a strong safety message and explain how safety ties into performance.

The topics will be covered by leaders in the industry, including Brian Haney of LeadPoint; Darrell Smith of NWRA; David Michaels formerly of OSHA; Douglas Castro of the Global Educational Resource Alliance; Jane Dolezal of Homewood Disposal Service, Inc.; Jennifer Smith of StopDistractions.org; Jim Olson of Republic Services; Shawn Mandel of Waste Connections, Inc.; and myself.

Waste360: What can attendees expect to take away from the Safety Symposium?

Kirk Sander: The key thing will be how to start a safety program if companies don’t already have one and how to improve their safety program if they do have one.

It’s important for leadership to set the tone for the safety program and for companies to mature that program so it doesn’t get complacent over time. At the symposium, the speakers will discuss how to lay a strong foundation and how to build upon that foundation in a smart way by thinking about the next five to 10 years opposed to just the next year.

Another takeaway will be how to engage with distracted drivers and reduce the number of incidents that occur on the roads. Distracted driving is a big issue, not just in our industry but worldwide, and it’s an issue that our drivers face every day. We hope to provide some good best practices for companies to keep their employees safe on the road because we want them to make it home safely to their families every day.

Waste360: As a whole, how can all sectors of the waste and recycling sector work together to improve safety?

Kirk Sander: For the most part, companies in this industry do work across the board to tackle safety. I think the focus needs to be on reaching outside of our industry, so that others can understand the challenges and dangers our employees face.

For example, we need to engage with the motorcycle industry because so far this year, there have been at least three motorcycles that have hit trash trucks. We also need to engage with other organizations that are working on the same issues as we are, so they are aware of our trucks’ limitations and safety concerns.

Waste360: For 2019 and beyond, what will NWRA be focusing on when it comes to safety?

Kirk Sander: There will be a Safety Committee meeting at WasteExpo, and we plan on using that meeting as a way to set the direction for the next year. I want to use that meeting as an in-depth discussion to find out what our membership wants us to focus on because they are the ones out there every day facing the issues head-on.

About the Author(s)

Mallory Szczepanski

Vice President of Member Relations and Publications, NWRA

Mallory Szczepanski was previously the editorial director for Waste360. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago, where her research focused on magazine journalism. She also has previously worked for Contract magazine, Restaurant Business magazine, FoodService Director magazine and Concrete Construction magazine.

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