SWANA has just released information regarding safety statistics for solid waste collection workers (US based) for last year. Solid waste collection workers continued to have the 5th deadliest job in the U.S. in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The 2016 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released on December 19, 2017 shows that the rate of fatalities among waste collection workers decreased by more than ten percent last year, but has not changed the industry’s ranking among the deadliest occupations (see charts).
Solid waste collection workers (NAICS 562111) had a rate of 34.1 fatalities per 100,000 full-time employees in 2016, compared to 38.8 in 2015. In 2016, 31 collection workers were killed on the job, compared to 36 the year before.
With 9 fatalities reported among solid waste landfill employees (NAICS 562212) in 2016, that sector also saw a decrease in total fatalities from a high of 11 deaths in 2015. During the three years before that, landfills only recorded 3 fatalities per year, so the current numbers remain high compared to other years.
Fatality data for material recovery facility (MRF) workers in 2016 show one reported on-the-job death, though the overall data for this sector did not meet publication criteria, and therefore no total was listed. In 2015, 3 fatalities occurred among MRF workers. In November, MRFs (NAICS 562920) were listed by BLS as one of the 25 industries with the highest rates of injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work, restricted work, or job transfer.
Though BLS data for 2017 will not be available until late 2018, SWANA has recorded more than 100 fatal incidents involving the waste sector in the U.S., with at least 30 waste workers and 70 third-parties killed this year.
According to a press release from BLS today, workers age 55 years and over had more fatalities in 2016 than any other year since tracking began in 1992. These workers also had a higher fatality rate than any other age group in 2016. Within the solid waste industry, where the age of the deceased is known, 37.5% of those killed were 55 years and older. Over 67% of all solid waste industry fatalities involved a worker that was older than 45 years.
The press release also notes that for the U.S. as a whole, there were a total of 5,190 fatal work injuries recorded in 2016, a 7-percent increase from the 4,836 fatal injuries reported in 2015. This is the third consecutive increase in annual workplace fatalities and the first time more than 5,000 fatalities have been recorded by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) since 2008. Transportation incidents remained the most common fatal event in 2016, accounting for 40%. Fatal work injuries from falls, slips, or trips continued a general upward trend that began in 2011, increasing 6 % in 2016 and 25% overall since 2011.
Though these numbers show modest improvement over the previous year, collection remains on the top 5 list of deadly jobs, and the fundamental dangers of the solid waste industry remain. As we work to develop and implement the Small Hauler Toolkit and Outreach in 2018, this type of data from BLS and other sources can help guide our efforts.SWANA Pacific Safety Info