According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 27 refuse and recycling haulers die each year per 100,000 full time workers.* Many of these fatalities result from traffic accidents caused by impatient or distracted drivers.
By comparison, road construction workers did not even make the top ten list for most fatalities, even though road construction has a public perception of high fatality rates from heavy equipment and traffic. The public awareness campaign to increase road construction safety helps explain the wide gap between public perception and the statistical data. The Give ‘em a Brake campaign has increased awareness for road construction safety and helped lower the incidence of road construction injuries.
Lack of Awareness, Lack of Safety
The success of the waste handling industry has ironically contributed to a lack of awareness for traffic safety for refuse and recycling haulers. The goal of the waste handling industry is to make problems disappear from sight. Refuse and recycling haulers are successful when they are out of sight and out of mind.
People are able to largely ignore waste haulers, making it easy to ignore traffic safety for the men and women driving and operating waste collection trucks. In contrast, nobody trying to travel during the summer is able to ignore road construction workers.
National Safety Month
June is National Safety Month, offering an opportunity to raise awareness for often overlooked professionals like refuse and recycling haulers. After all, safety starts with awareness.
* This ranking distinguishes between professions that deliver products from those that provide services. For example, the forestry sector, which provides wood products, is ranked number 1 on this list.