FEBRUARY 2010

Department of Labor reports improved safety in solid waste

According to recent reports by the United States Department of Labor, the number of injuries by solid waste collection workers continued to decline in 2008. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that the injury rate during 2008 for both solid waste collection and landfill employees continued to decline, as it has in recent years. Similarly, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that there was a decline in OSHA citations issued to the solid waste industry during fiscal year 2009.

The BLS report indicates that the injury rate for solid waste collection workers decreased marginally to 7.4 from 7.5 per 100 full time employees, and that the injury rate fell dramatically for landfill company employees from 7.1 to 5.4, a 24 percent reduction.

In its industry-specific enforcement data for fiscal year 2009 (October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009), OSHA reported that 279 citations were issued to the United States solid waste industry, with about $250,000 in penalties assessed. The number of citations compares very favorably with fiscal year 2008, when 445 citations were issued and more than $333,000 in fines were assessed. Violations of the Hazard Communication, Lockout-Tagout and Respiratory Protection standards were the most common.