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Workplace safety for sanitation workers

Sanitation workers in New Jersey and the rest of the nation can incur various types of injuries while they are collecting trash and afterward. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2016, workers who collect recyclable and refuse materials ranked fifth in the list of civilian occupations that have the highest deadly work injury rate. The fatality rate for these workers is almost 10 times more than that for individuals who work in other industries. According to the Solid Waste Association of North America, there were seven sanitation worker fatalities in the first 10 days of 2018.

Sanitation workers are also prone to strains, overexertion and sprain injuries due to frequently jumping on and off sanitation vehicles and handling heavy cargo. Another hazard they constantly face is being exposed to potentially unsafe materials.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducts inspections of sanitation employers if it receives a complaint or if a death occurs even though it does not explicitly regulate sanitation vehicles or employees. The Safety Standards for Mobile Refuse Collection and Compaction Equipment is a set of procedures that was published by the American National Standards Institute to provide safety guidance to sanitation workers. The procedures include riding on steps created specifically for riding, riding in the vehicle cab, and remaining in the vehicle until it comes to a complete stop. It also recommends making sure there is no one in the hoppers or landing sills while the vehicle is in motion.

An attorney who practices workers' compensation law may assist injured workers with filing claims for workplace injuries. A lawyer may appeal settlement amounts to ensure that a client has enough benefits to make up for lost wages and medical expenses associated with occupational diseases, permanent disabilities, neck injuries or back injuries that were incurred on the job.

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