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BLS releases safety data on waste industry

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2017 Employer-Reported Injury and Illness Report that was recently released shows improvements in safety within the solid waste collection industry consistent with the national trend, according to an analysis conducted by the Arlington, Virginia-based National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA). There were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017, which occurred at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. This represents an improvement of 0.1 injuries per 100 FTE workers from 2016.

The waste and recycling industry as a whole had a steady rate of 5.0, while solid waste collections dropped 0.1, similar to the national data. The material recovery facility rate increased from 6.0 to 9.8.

BLS data for the waste and recycling sector show:

  • NAICS code 562, Waste Collection, held steady at a rate of 5.0.
  • NAICS code 562111, Solid Waste Collection, declined from 5.2 to 5.1, similar to the national rate.
  • NAICS code 56292, MRFs, rose from 6.0 to 9.8.

“Today’s BLS release of industry injury and illness data illuminates the progress being made to improve safety performance nationwide but shows we still have work to do,” says NWRA president and CEO Darrell Smith. “Since our board of trustees designated safety as a strategic initiative, NWRA has worked to provide its members with tools and outreach efforts, as well as collect our own data from members to monitor trends in safety.”

NWRA says it has urged 22 states to pass Slow Down to Get Around laws that help protect drivers and helpers when collecting refuse, and it is encouraging other states to do so as well. The association says it is continuing its work to protect employees by promoting a transition to automated side-load trucks in communities and holding discussions about mitigating the effects of distracted driving.