Sanitation workers face growing danger

Colorado is among the states that do not have a Slow Down To Get Around law on the books. These laws are designed to protect workers in hazard vehicles, including those in waste and recycling collection vehicles. Sanitation work is among the five deadliest professions, and a big reason for that is accidents caused by impatient, distracted or careless motorists. 

Garbage trucks are hard to miss

Distracted driving is the likely culprit for the increased danger faced by trash collectors. When a car runs into the back of a garbage truck, the fault almost always lies with with driver of the car. Garbage trucks are large, loud, and heavy. They are known to make frequent stops. There is simply no excuse for drivers who injure sanitation workers with aggressive or distracted driving.

Workers’ compensation

Sanitation workers face a range of dangers in their work. They are exposed to working conditions that can lead to:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Crush injuries
  • Hazardous waste exposure
  • Lifting and repetitive motion injuries
  • Motor vehicle accident injuries

The potential for serious, even fatal accidents is a day-to-day reality for many in the industry. 

Laws that encourage drivers to give garbage trucks a wide berth could help. Asking drivers to slow down and wait for a safe opportunity to pass, and punishing them when they don’t, could decrease the number of accidents suffered by trash and recycling collectors. While workers’ compensation benefits can help an injured worker maximize his or her recovery, the best result is for workers to avoid getting injured in the first place.

Source: The Denver Post, “Sanitation worker safety: Group wants penalties passed,” by Julie Carr Smyth, 5 April 2018

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