NSC Labor Division news Statistics Administrative/support/waste management/remediation

Sanitation worker deaths climbed sharply in 2022, industry association says

NYC-garbage truck.jpg
Photo: ChainGangPictures/iStockphoto

Silver Spring, MD — At least 46 sanitation workers in the United States and Canada died from on-the-job injuries last year – a 64.3% increase from 2021, a recent analysis shows.

Using fatality data from industry sources and media reports, the Solid Waste Association of North America found that 54.3% of the deaths occurred during collection operations. Incidents involving a worker’s own truck – falling from it, being struck by it or enduring a truck rollover, for example – were the leading cause of death among collection workers.

Eleven of the worker deaths stemmed from mechanical-related incidents – the first time this type of event has been the leading cause of death. According to SWANA, mechanical-related incidents include truck maintenance and work on and around shredders, balers, compactors and other equipment.

“The 2022 data is a reminder that we need to make sure that safety is a core value across all lines of business – in collection, post-collection and maintenance – and at small and large companies and agencies in both the public and private sectors,” SWANA Executive Director and CEO David Biderman said in a press release.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that refuse and recyclable material collectors experienced a fatal workplace injury rate of 27.9 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2021, the seventh-highest rate for civilian occupations. However, the rate represents a 15.7% decline from 2020.

SWANA safety tips for sanitation workers include:

  • Wear personal protective equipment, especially high-visibility vests and/or outerwear.
  • Never use cellphones while driving garbage trucks or at a disposal facility.
  • Buckle up.

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