The dangers of being an NYC sanitation worker

Sanitation workers deserve more respect than they receive. Keeping NYC streets clean is not only a demanding and continuous job but also one that comes with more dangers than most people think. In fact, the sanitation industry has the most fatalities in New York, reveals Safety and Health Magazine. 

Waste management is more than just dirty; it is also highly dangerous, resulting in injuries and deaths from these common causes.

Motor vehicle accidents

Garbage trucks have to repeatedly stop and go. Other drivers on the road can easily get impatient and try to go around the truck. They may be speeding down the street or they not be paying attention and miss the truck's stop. Motorists may not see workers getting in and out of the truck and moving about the street. All these scenarios lead to severe collisions.

Weather conditions

Trash requires collection rain or shine. Exposure to extremes in weather put sanitation employees at risk of health issues including the following:

  • Frostbite
  • Hypothermia
  • Heat stroke and exhaustion
  • Sunburn (including in winter)
  • Dehydration 

This environment also takes a toll on the immune system, making workers more susceptible to everyday sicknesses as well.

Materials and equipment

Waste consists of hazardous material due to chemicals, germs, pests, bodily fluids and sharp objects. Bags can rip or explode, causing injury to workers. Garbage trucks require regular maintenance just like any other vehicle, yet many workers must use broken trucks that come with high risk of accident and bodily harm. The intense noise levels can also damage workers' hearing. In addition, workers do not receive the same safety training and equipment that those in other industries do.

No matter where the fault lies in a NYC sanitation accident, companies need to do a better job at reducing risk by following safety regulations, providing adequate training and resources, and making changes to improve work environment and procedures.

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