Why Safety Training is Important in Waste and Recycling

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Solid waste collection has been widely reported as one of the deadliest jobs in the nation, sometimes ranking above law enforcement and other occupations known for being inherently dangerous.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented additional risks to waste and recycling companies that already face keeping workers safe from an evolving list of hazards.

Making training available to employees at all levels of an organization could be a significant step to building a robust safety culture and erasing the word “deadliest” next to industry headlines.

The National Safety Council (NSC), a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization founded in 1913, advocates for health and safety in American workplaces and homes. It offers an assortment of training for workers of all levels that might not necessarily have a safety background.

“If you have employees responsible for safety that don’t have formal education in safety, you have risk,” explains Dr. Amy K. Harper, NSC’s senior director of Workplace Training & Consulting Services. “Encouraging those responsible for safety to earn an Advanced Safety Certificate, or even attend a course like Principles of Occupational Safety & Health (POSH) will allow them to ramp up their skills in less time than on-the-job learning.”

The NSC provides the following educational offerings to those of varying experience levels:

  1. Advanced Safety Certificate: is designed to increase a critical-thinking skillset in safety and health. It also provides a foundation and a clear roadmap to meet many industry-leading safety certification requirements
  2. Virtual Industrial Hygiene Basics: examines the key processes in an industrial hygiene effort: anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control.
  3. Risk Assessment Workshop: a hands-on technique to be carried out on site at customer premises to help the respective team learn the practical methods for carrying out risk assessments as an integral part of their safety management system philosophy, covering the elements of hazard recognition, risk evaluation and control. This workshop is for organizations looking to move beyond compliance or that are implementing ISO 45001/ANSI Z10.
  4. Online Workplace Training: OSHA 10/30 Construction and OSHA 10 General Industry available in proctored and non-proctored formats. 
  5. BCSP examCORE Certification Prep Online: currently offering ASP, CSP, CHST, OHST, SMS and soon, CIT.
  6. Online Supervisor Safety Development Program Training: adaptive learning gauges knowledge and confidence in answers at each point in training, enabling individualized learning paths and potential time savings. Satisfy OSHA compliance regulations. Supplement in-person supervisory training with these online preparation courses.
  7. Compliance Courses: learn what is necessary to achieve OSHA compliance and go beyond compliance.

Stress and anxiety levels should be of particular concern to employers, especially for workers with families affected by job layoffs or a reduction of hours, Dr.Harper says. The pandemic and its effects have caused Americans to increasingly turn to alcohol, substance abuse and other coping mechanisms. At least 30 states have reported a rise in fatal opioid overdoses, according to the American Medical Association.

Fatigue management also is an issue, which could affect employees who may be less likely to take time away from work, or who supplement their employment with a side gig to compensate for other family members out of work. Lastly,  there are also increased risks because of new work processes or policies enacted to mitigate COVID-19 exposures to workers.

“Anytime you change something about the way work is getting done, it potentially introduces new risks that need to be accounted for and controlled,” she comments.

Because of the ever-changing public health crisis and its impact on American workplaces, now is not the time to “skimp on safety,” Dr. Harper says.

“If anything, it is a time to double-down on ensuring those responsible for safety in the workplace have the competencies they need to lead organizations on a path forward through this crisis and change,” she says. “With states changing rules and workers compensation carriers determining what is compensable or not, now is not the time to leave your organization’s fate in their hands. You can take charge and be proactive by getting your safety leads trained and knowledgeable about what they can and should be doing.”

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