How to Build a Safety Foundation in the Waste and Recycling Industry

Safety rules must be relatable to all workers throughout the organization. NWRA's Safety Committee has developed a document that will help guide organizations to build a strong safety foundation.

Kirk Sander, Chief of Staff & Vice President, Safety and Standards

May 2, 2022

2 Min Read
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Every morning, my family has smoothies for breakfast. You might wonder how does making a smoothie relate to safety. I have empowered my seven-year-old to be the family’s smoothie maker. Before taking the lid off the blender, she checks to make sure it isn’t blending, the power is turned off, and it is unplugged. This is the building of a strong foundation for safety, specifically around electrical equipment. She knows that before she reaches into any appliance that rotates or has a heating element to turn it off and disconnect it before fixing, adding ingredients, or stirring. This is also evident in her cookie making with our upright mixer.

What are you doing to build a foundation of safety in the industry?

Throughout the years, NWRA has heard that there is the need for an easy-to-read reference for safety that doesn’t involve the 500-plus page Manual of Recommended Safety Practices or one of the seven published standards related to the industry. While those are great resources, a direct, easy to reference document did not exist. Over the past two years, the NWRA Safety Committee has been working on putting together that easy-to-read reference document that is built on the foundational safety concepts of the industry. For instance, no double-siding, only riding on the riding step for no more than 0.2 mile at a speed no greater than 10mph, and never disabling a safety device just to name a few.

At the Safety Symposium being held at Waste Expo on May 12, you will hear from Safety Committee Chair Jeff Martin about the Foundational Safety Guide.  This guide is broken out into collections and post-collection operations. Not only will the document succinctly list the foundational safety rules for the industry, but it will also provide a relatable teaching scenario.  The scenarios will illustrate how not complying with the foundational safety rules resulted in a loss of life, limb, or property. The hope is that the scenarios will make the foundational safety rules more relatable to the front-line workers and managers.

Now, I can’t promise we will be making smoothies at the Safety Symposium, though I think either smoothies or cookie making would make for an interesting safety training, but you will learn about ways to strengthen your safety foundation and what is needed to build one for new employees in the industry.

The National Waste and Recycling Association will be located at booth #1905 during WasteExpo 2022 in Las Vegas. See Jeff Martin speak about safety on Thursday, May 12 at the workshop titled, "Building on Foundational Safety—NWRA Safety Symposium Workshop."

About the Author(s)

Kirk Sander

Chief of Staff & Vice President, Safety and Standards, National Waste & Recycling Association

Kirk M. Sander is the Chief of Staff & Vice President, Safety and Standards, National Waste & Recycling Association.

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