Safety First

Safety First: Cautious Checklist

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Seven tips for safer waste and recycling operations in the New Year.

Now that it is January, many of you have new budgets to work with, new goals to achieve, and new programs to implement.

How many of you are thinking about safety in connection with those items?

Over the past year, the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) exceeded its goals for providing safety training to managers, supervisors and front-line employees in the private sector. We provided safety and compliance information to more than 800 people at 14 events in seven states. We partnered with our members, municipalities, the owners of this magazine and other associations to help both public and private sector employers and employees reduce fatalities, accidents and injuries. This does not include the numerous ANSI Z245 subcommittee meetings at which safety leaders in the industry gathered to discuss how to make the industry even safer.

In 2013, NSWMA expects to do even more, and we will expand our role as the industry leader in safety. These plans include more classroom and digital education, the updated Safety Manual, and more.

As we plan for these events, here are seven things that you and your employer can do to improve worker safety in the solid waste and recycling industry in 2013:

  1. Engage Your Workers – Most accidents are caused by unsafe behav- iors. Figure out how to motivate your employees to change these behaviors by making safety a personal issue for them. Change the safety culture at your workplace.
  2. Review Your Data – Figure out what the most common types of injuries and accidents you are having. Look for patterns; do you have more on certain days, or times of the day, or at specific locations? Since every fleet and safety culture is different, it is essential to identify your own problem areas.
  3. Job Observation – Managers and supervisors need to observe front line workers to make sure they are working safely and complying with company rules and applicable laws. This is particularly important on the route, where most of the serious incidents take place.
  4. Safety Belts – In most states, drivers are required to wear a safety belt on the route. These safety devices can be the difference between being shaken up by a truck rolling over or a fatal accident.
  5. Distracted Driving – An increasing percentage of truck crashes involve someone talking on the cell phone or texting. It is illegal for a truck driver operating in interstate commerce to text or to use a hand held cell phone while driving. If you have a distracted driving policy, enforce it. If you don’t have such a policy, we can send one to you.
  6. Backing and Rear-End Collisions – These are the two most common types of vehicular accidents involving garbage and recycling trucks. Often, rushing or not using the backup camera or mirrors contributes to these accidents.
  7. Rushing – When drivers and help- ers are rushing to finish their route quickly, there can be an increased risk of an accident. Working fast does not mean you can’t work safe. If your col- lection workers are rushing, figure out why and what you can do to reduce the risk of an accident or injury.

NSWMA will continue to provide resources to help your employees work safely, and will be expanding its safety offerings. You should make a resolution to take advantage of them in 2013.

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What's Safety First?

Phil Hagan, director of safety for the National Waste & Recycling Associa, keeps an eye on safety issues affecting the waste and recycling industries.

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Phil Hagan

Phil Hagan is the Director of Safety for the National Waste & Recycling Association, a practicing attorney and teaches at Georgetown University.
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