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New data shows sanitation worker deaths down from last year, but still high

Philadelphia workers' compensation

Sanitation workers are an absolute necessity in Philadelphia. They keep our streets clean and remove heaps of garbage from our sidewalks and dumpsters. Their hard (and dirty) work protects the public from exposure to unsanitary conditions and toxic hazards. Being a sanitation worker, however, comes with its own set of hazards.

According to a recent analysis by the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), there have been at least 30 sanitation worker deaths in the first seven months of 2019. Approximately 27 of those deaths happened in the United States and three happened in Canada.

What recent data shows about sanitation worker deaths

Preliminary data shows that this marks a 9.1 percent decrease from the same period in 2018. This data was compiled from organization members, as well as reports found in newspapers and online.

In addition, 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BSL) shows that refuse and recyclable material collectors had an injury rate of 35 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

“Solid waste collection is the fifth most dangerous job in the United States; we need to reduce the frequency of incidents involving our workers and vehicles,” said David Biderman, SWANA Executive Director and CEO.

Approximately 59 sanitation worker deaths were recorded by SWANA in 2018. In the first three weeks of 2019 alone, 17 sanitation worker deaths occurred.

Common accidents, injuries, and safety measures

Sanitation workers are often at risk of:

  • Being crushed by heavy machinery and equipment
  • Slipping or falling off machinery or garbage trucks
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals and toxins
  • Defects with equipment

Those who survive these devastating accidents, often sustain serious injuries, including (but not limited to):

  • Broken bones
  • Back, shoulder, and neck injuries
  • Injuries to the spine
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Lacerations
  • Paralysis

In order to prevent deaths and serious injuries, SWANA offers these safety tips:

  • Wear protective equipment and gear, such as high-visibility vests and other protective outerwear
  • Avoid cellphones and other distractions while operating a garbage truck or working in a disposal facility
  • Garbage truck drivers should buckle up

Are sanitation workers eligible for workers' comp?

In some places, such as New York City, sanitation workers are not eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Luckily, in Pennsylvania, this is not the case. If you're a sanitation worker who was injured on the job, it's crucial that you speak to an experienced Philadelphia workers' compensation attorney who can discuss your legal options and help you file your claim.

Contact the Law Offices Of Richard A. Jaffe, LLC today to learn more.

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