Protecting Refuse Collection Workers

Collecting residential and commercial trash keeps communities clean but also poses risks for the people who perform the work. Garbage trucks generally weigh over 26,000 lb. and have dangerous moving parts, including a hopper, hydraulic lift, and packer blade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), refuse and recycling collection is one of the top five most hazardous occupations. 

To prevent accidents, follow these helpful tips from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and National Solid Waste Management Association (NSWMA):

  • Wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Follow ergonomic lifting techniques to avoid muscle strain
  • Maintain visual contact between driver and crew members’ locations at all times, and stop the truck if visual contact is lost
  • Ride only in the vehicle or on steps specifically designed for riding
  • Remain inside the vehicle cab until it has come to a complete stop
  • Do not use riding steps when vehicle is backing, exceeding 10 MPH, or traveling more than 0.2 mile
  • Do not ride on loading sills or in hopper
  • Check side mirrors repeatedly when backing up
  • Stay clear of the rear of the truck when the back-up lights are on or alarm is heard
  • Driver should use hand signals with a spotter to assist with backing up, and all crew members should understand the hand signals
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