US waste sector had about 50 worker fatalities last year

SWANA Blog: Safety Must be Key Focus for Waste & Recycling Industry

Health and safety is always a great concern in waste management and recycling industry. Few weeks ago, when I was in USA, I was surprised by the facts and figures

Antonis Mavropoulous Opinion blog Antonis Mavropoulos
Image ©

Health and safety is always a great concern in waste management and recycling industry. Few weeks ago, when I was in USA, I was surprised by the facts and figures about health and safety in the waste sector that were presented by SWANA, ISWA’s National Member that covers USA & Canada. So, I asked David Biderman, SWANA’s Executive Director and CEO (as well as the host of ISWA’s 2017 World Congress in Baltimore, on September 25-27) to prepare a blog….

Just few days ago, I was happy to learn that David Biderman has been awarded PRECO Electronics’ Safety in Motion Award for his “unparalleled commitment to safety” in 2016 (HERE). The Safety in Motion Award is given annually to honor industry leaders who PRECO believes show initiative, imagination, and involvement regarding their approach to safety, distinguishing them as a voice of safety for the industry. Congratulations to David and SWANA and let’s see what we can learn from their commitment to health and safety! 

“The Solid Waste of Association of North America (SWANA) places a major emphasis on worker safety, and on reducing the number of accidents and injuries involving the waste sector.  SWANA’s award-winning safety programs including a variety of innovations and initiatives, including our chapter-level Safety Ambassadors, regular Safety Alerts, frequent safety seminars, workshops and webinars, often in collaboration with other organizations, and communication strategies aimed at the front line worker. SWANA’s safety program’s elements is at www.swana.org/safety

Why do we place such emphasis on worker safety? 

Because every worker in the waste sector deserves to go home to their families at the end of the day with all ten fingers and toes;

Because the waste sector in the United States had about 50 worker fatalities last year – that’s 1 each week, and about 80 fatal accidents in which another driver, pedestrian, bicyclist or other third party was killed.

Because U.S. waste collection industry employees have a higher fatality rate than police officers or fire fighters, and is the fifth most dangerous job in the country.

Because while different components of the industry may argue the merits of landfilling vs. waste-to-energy, composting vs anaerobic digestion, or the appropriate method of calculating recycling, there should be no debate over whether we want the hard-working men and women who do the very difficult job of collecting, processing and managing waste and recyclables to have a safer work environment.  As developing countries establish more formal waste collection and disposal systems, we need to make sure that we provide both employers and employees with the safety tools and resources they need to do the job safely.  SWANA stands ready to help other ISWA National Members and others with this important task. 

Contact David Biderman

Read More
President's Blog: The War on Dumpsites is about People not Waste!
New ISWA President Antonis Mavropoulos reports on his trip to Nicaragua two days ago where he visited the kids from the ISWA Scholarship Programme, an encounter which obviously really touched him.

Time to Tackle Organics if 50% Recycling Rate to be Achieved
ISWA President, David Newman laments the UK’s lack of drive to increase recycling rates, collect organics and tackle litter.

ISWA Blog: Winds of Change Sweeping Waste Investment Landscape
David Newman, ISWA president, asks if change is happening, or about to happen, in global waste investment?