Authorities reported concern over the number of fatalities that are reported in the sanitation industry. According to the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), 132 lives were lost in work-related accidents in 2017. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health says non-compliance with workplace safety gives rise to many of the injuries and fatalities in this industry.
SWANA says fatalities occurred during waste collection, at landfills, transfer stations, Material Recovery Facilities and other locations. Furthermore, many workers suffer strains, sprains and other overexertion injuries from handling heavy loads and jumping off trucks. Exposure to hazardous materials is another one of the risks sanitation workers face.
Safety authorities suggest sanitation workers should only ride inside the cab of the vehicle or only on steps designed for that purpose, and never to exit the truck before it comes to a complete stop. Workers must also not be on riding steps when the truck backs up or exceeds 10 mph, and they must never ride in hoppers or on loading sills. Furthermore, sanitation workers must wear the necessary personal protective equipment, including high-visibility outerwear.
New York sanitation workers whose employers disregard workplace safety are incredibly vulnerable. However, they might find comfort in knowing that the state-regulated workers’ compensation insurance program provides benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages of victims of workplace injuries. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can help with the navigation of the complicated claims process. Families who have lost loved ones in work-related accidents are typically entitled to file claims for death benefits, which also covers the costs of end-of-life arrangements.