The Northwest Florida Daily News reported that last Thursday a 34-year-old temporary City of Milton employee was killed after being pinned between a garbage truck and another vehicle. At 7:10 a.m., the Milton man was collecting road debris on Magnolia Street and was in the process of putting the debris in the back of the garbage truck when another vehicle collided with the back of the garbage truck, pinning the 34 year-old male. The media release from the City of Milton said the male was pronounced dead at the scene. Moreover, the driver of the other vehicle, who is not being identified, was flown from the scene with critical injuries. A similar crash killed a 55-year-old sanitation worker in Destin in November 2000. A man was killed while emptying trash cans on Calhoun Avenue in Destin when he was pinned between the truck and a car that rear-ended the truck.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased and the injured driver.
Did you know that garbage collecting may not appear to be hazardous. But research shows that it can in fact be both dangerous and even deadly. A report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows that between 1980 and 1992, 450 sanitation workers aged 16 or older died in incidents involving refuse collection. Two thirds of these deaths were vehicle related, and most occurred when the worker slipped or fell from a refuse-collection truck and was struck or run over by their own vehicle. Unfortunately, the risk of injury and death has not gotten better then. In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that refuse and recyclable materials collectors had a fatality rate of 22 per 100,000 workers, making them among jobs with high fatality rates. In 2004, NIOSH reported that workers in waste management were in the top three job classifications to have the greatest risk of falling, and were number six in having the greatest number of fatalities in the service sector. Solid Waste Collection workers were also two times more likely to suffer lost workday injuries than the average service sector worker.
To avoid injuries and minimize exposure to job hazards, NIOSH recommends the following steps be taken:
· Train drivers and collectors to be aware of the hazardous areas around a refuse-collection vehicle.
· If you’re picking up garbage, ride in the vehicle cab when traveling to or between collection routes rather than on the side step. If there aren’t enough seats in the cab for collectors, they should be transported to the job site by separate vehicle.
· Use the riding steps on the side of the refuse vehicle only when moving forward for short distances and only at speeds of 10 mph or less. Don’t stand on the steps when the vehicle is backing up; you could slip off and be run over. Step on or off the riding steps (rather than jump on them), and mount or dismount them only when the vehicle’s at a complete standstill.
· Use extreme caution when backing up and always keep workers on foot in your line of vision. If visual contact is lost, drivers should stop the vehicle immediately.
· Wear safety equipment at all times. This includes highly visible colored clothing, slip- resistant footwear (avoid shoes with very narrow cleats or spikes that might get caught in open mesh riding steps), and protective eyewear such as goggles.