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Solid Waste Safety Tips

The business of solid waste is comprised of three basic groups:

1) businesses focusing on the collection of waste materials;

2) businesses focused on the treatment and proper disposal of waste materials

3) businesses focusing on special usages of select kinds of waste materials.

Throughout the United States, there are hundreds of thousands of employees working in the business of solid waste and much like any job involving physical risk or manual labor, injuries can occur if precautions are not taken. Focusing on the prevention of injuries is the key to staying healthy and injury-free in the solid waste business. All employees, both managerial and those working on the front-lines, need to be routinely presented with up-to-date health and safety training. This is especially important in the areas of identifying possibly hazardous situations and materials and establishing best-practice and effective personal safety habits.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started on practices your business can implement to reduce employee time off the job due to injuries.

- No need to recreate the wheel! Utilize the online and printed materials available from both federal and state health and safety training programs and add in any specific rules or regulations that are a part of your business.

- Establish a business environment that values the safety of all employees and ensure that everyone be required to follow the rules - from the President and senior managers all the way  down to the newly hired entry-level worker.

- Have a mechanism in place so workers and managers can routinely discuss health and safety concerns and be aware of the steps needed to address them.

- Compare your business to others of similar size and sector in terms of employee injury and health. Develop a strategy to become the best in your region or field.

- Invest in equipment that can automate lifting and collection to reduce employee overexertion and injury risks.

- Have your Human Resources office schedule routine safety training for all new employees and a yearly safety review for those who have been on the job for many years.

In addition, it’s important to remember that in many regions, hot temperatures and heat-waves are common-place throughout the year and especially damaging in the summer months and can increase incidence rates of heat exhaustion for those working outside. This is particularly significant to those in waste management working in dense, urban areas where high temperatures can combine with ozone to create a very dangerous condition for employees.

As a waste management owner or manager, it's important to be aware that high ozone levels can bring about breathing problems and aggravate lung conditions for those working outside. When a municipality issues an ozone alert, a work plan needs to be in place so that risk is limited for those employed in a strenuous, outdoor capacity. You can learn more about your region’s ozone performance readings, by searching for the comprehensive data published on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Remember that as a business owner, the health and safety of your employees is your responsibility. Sick days and injuries will affect your bottom line so do all that you can to make sure all employees are well trained and working safe!


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