Sanitation Worker Hazards
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupations ranked the waste industry as having the fifth highest on-the-job mortality rate among civilian jobs in the country, coming in right behind roofers. That is a very eye-opening statistic. Workplace accidents and injuries can be caused by a myriad of hazards.
Not surprisingly, the most common occupational hazard to waste management workers is traffic accidents. Other hazards include physical exertion from lifting heavy equipment, injuries from jumping on or off the truck, chemical contact from toxic waste, laceration from metals and harmful substances, and even equipment compression. The most frequent injuries include strains, fractures, knee injuries, lacerated hands, ankle strains, hernias and shoulder strains. In addition, sanitation workers are also more prone to stomach problems, allergies, infections, and respiratory issues.
As if collateral injuries and illness were not bad enough, many sanitation workers are also subject to exacting and unreasonable demands. Municipally run waste removal services have regulations in place to prevent maltreatment and exploitation of workers. But as our country’s waste removal needs expand, a growing number of cities are feeling pressured to employ the service of privately managed waste collection companies.
Workers of Privately-Owned Waste Companies at Greater Risk
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. employs 120,000 waste workers to haul 254 million tons of trash per year. Private sector trash collectors can help bear that burden. However, without government oversite, many of these companies can, and do, put stricter and more unrealistic demands on their workers, with punitive consequences for not meeting quota.
A recent investigation uncovered that in New York City, the night workers are expected to work 10-14 hour shifts to get the job done before dawn. To make matters worse, they are not given enough time between shifts to return to work well rested. They are pressured, and sometime threatened, to collect impractical amounts of garbage during their shift, sometimes up to 1,000 loads in a single night. They are not provided the necessary gear for the weather conditions, which can be sweltering or freezing.
These deplorable work conditions not only endanger the workers, they also put civilians in danger. Since private sector waste management is almost completely unregulated, workers, many of whom are hired on a shift by shift basis, have little recourse or motivation to bring this treatment to the attention of anyone in authority. They are often working as day laborers to support their families, as opposed to their municipally employed counterparts, who still face the inherent occupational hazards, but are afforded a fair amount of protection and respect.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Represent Sanitation Workers Hurt on the Job
If you have sustained an injury due to the rigors of your job, attorneys at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. will advocate for your right to compensation. Contact us online or call 888-999-1962 today to arrange a free consultation with a dedicated Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer. We represent clients throughout Delaware County from our offices in Philadelphia, as well as those in the areas surrounding our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Pinehurst, North Carolina.