There were seven deaths related to the solid waste industry in the first ten days of 2018, according to an announcement from the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA). The fatalities took place in Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Virginia, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
Although overall industry deaths have declined, solid waste collection remains the fifth deadliest job in the U.S., according to 2016 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. SWANA’s announcement included a call to create a safe environment for both employees and the public.
“I am very disappointed by the number of fatal incidents in the first ten days of 2018; each of them is a tragedy and serves as a reminder that the entire industry needs to improve its safety culture,” said David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO, in a statement. “We urge companies and local governments to not only take the time to educate supervisors and employees, but also commit to making safety a workplace priority. Nothing we do at SWANA is more important.”
The high frequency of deaths in the first ten days of the year, if continued, would represent an increase in fatal incidents from 2017, which saw more than 100 deaths in the solid waste sector in the U.S. SWANA will attempt to combat such an increase through several events and programs across the country.
“We need to be more creative in our safety efforts and target smaller companies and local governments who may lack the resources and expertise to provide safety training and information to their front-line workers,” stated Tom Parker, associate at CH2M Hill and SWANA safety committee chair, in a statement.