Collecting waste and recycling is a perilous occupation. In 2020, for instance, it was the sixth most dangerous job in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s a frightening stat, but it’s not a surprising one. Just take a moment to consider the hazards that the unsung heroes of waste management face every time they’re on duty.
Being on the road all day is, in and of itself, dangerous. Collisions are a constant concern – and that concern is compounded as impatient commuters zip by as waste workers empty trash cans from the side of the street. Lifting heavy objects – especially in poor conditions like rain, snow or ice – can lead to injury. Pests and rodents can also be a threat.
But one of the biggest dangers that waste and recycling workers face comes from hazardous materials that have been disposed of improperly
Battery acid, nails left in construction materials, broken glass and needles are all commonly found in trash and pose a serious threat to workers. Chemicals, coal and even garden waste can start fires inside of the hopper that can quickly become very dangerous.
The good news: A technology solution can reduce the risks that waste workers face.
Telematics Increase Contamination Visibility
There are laws and regulations in place outlining the correct way to dispose of hazardous materials. Unfortunately, however, customers don’t always follow the rules, leaving waste management workers at risk.
Installing cameras on garbage trucks that take a photo or video of every load as it’s dumped in the hopper is one method to improve contamination detection.
And combined with data from service verification tools, including RFID tags, GPS location and time stamps, this visual evidence of contamination can help haulers quickly identify customers who are not following waste management regulations, allowing them to educate these customers and, if violations continue, take further corrective action.
The result: Worker safety is increased, and haulers save money by avoiding costly contamination fines.