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Waste collection among top 10 deadliest jobs

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

Waste collection is one of the nation’s most dangerous jobs. Even with safety improvements and new technologies, collecting and disposing of waste has inherent risks.

Understanding these risks helps raise awareness among workers. It also helps improve safety in the industry.

Occupational hazards

Waste collectors encounter many hazards during their work. Injuries and fatalities from heavy machinery, such as garbage trucks and compactors, are common. Operating these vehicles requires precision and caution to avoid accidents.

Waste collectors also navigate large vehicles through busy streets, alleyways and neighborhoods. Collisions with other cars contribute to the high rate of accidents in the industry. So do those involving stationary objects.

Exposure to hazardous materials also poses health risks to waste collectors. Toxic chemicals and biohazardous waste can cause respiratory problems. These substances can also lead to skin irritation and long-term health issues.

Preventative measures

To address these risks, waste collection companies must practice robust safety measures. This includes providing extensive training on safe driving practices. It also includes teaching workers about safe equipment operation and hazardous material handling. Regular maintenance and inspection of vehicles and equipment are also necessary. This helps employers and workers identify and address potential safety hazards. Waste collectors should also adhere to strict protocols for wearing personal protective equipment. This might include using gloves, safety vests and steel-toed boots to reduce injury risks.

Waste collection is necessary for maintaining public health and sanitation. However, it is a hazardous occupation with a high rate of deaths. Per Waste Dive, waste collection was the seventh-deadliest job in the United States in 2022.