NSWMA asks motorists to slow down near sanitation workers

The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) started a radio campaign on January 14 urging motorists to drive defensively near garbage trucks and avoid hitting sanitation workers. The three-week radio ad campaign, which will take place in 10 cities, is part of NSWMA’s Slow Down to Get Around program that seeks to reduce workplace fatalities and injuries to waste collection employees.

NSWMA’s Slow Down to Get Around radio ads aired in the following locations: Allentown, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas; Birmingham, Alabama; Dayton, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Greenville, South Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; and Washington D.C..

According to NSWMA’s general counsel David Biderman, “A substantial number of struck-by accidents in which a motorist runs into a garbage collector take place during the morning commute hours, when motorists are often rushing to work or bringing children to school.”

There were two separate fatal accidents involving sanitation workers on consecutive days in November 2007. On November 27, Ricky Fortin, a 46 year-old Maine garbage collector, was struck and killed when the driver of an SUV ran into him while he was putting trash in the back of a garbage truck. The driver of the SUV was also killed. The following day, Norman Looper, a 60 year-old South Carolina garbageman, was killed when a motorist crashed into him behind the truck.

Motorists also frequently crash into stopped garbage trucks. In January, a Pennsylvania motorist crashed into a municipal garbage truck. The motorist was seriously injured; a sanitation employee was able to jump to safety before the collision.

NSWMA’s safety program is based in part on a similar program developed several years ago by Rumpke Consolidated Companies, an NSWMA member, after two of their workers were struck by motorists in separate accidents. Rumpke’s director of safety, Larry Stone, stated, “I am thrilled that NSWMA is taking a leadership role in alerting motorists and regulators about this growing safety problem.”

NSWMA’s radio ads are being conducted and funded through a Susan B. Harwood Grant received from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).