Sanitation workers perform a variety of job duties depending on their employment position, such as collecting and properly disposing of waste, recyclables, and garbage, emptying pits and septic tanks, cleaning toilets, manholes, and sewers, and operating pumping stations. Not only is it a physically demanding job, but sanitation work also comes with plenty of hazards: according to the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), seven sanitation workers died in the first 10 days of 2018. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic poses unique risks to sanitation workers as well, who arguably face more occupational dangers now than ever before. To combat these hazards, employers need to take steps to protect workers from known risk factors in order to limit preventable injuries and deaths.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that refuse and recyclable material (or trash and recycling pick-up) collectors are exposed to some of the highest job-related risks, sustaining nearly 10 times as many fatal injuries as workers in any other industry. Some of the hazards that recycling and refuse material collectors most frequently encounter on the job include:
Organizations like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and SWANA provide recommendations for employers and workers alike on ways they can effectively reduce accident rates in this dangerous job field. Some of the organizations’ recommendations include the following safety and health tips:
No matter how dangerous a particular line of work may be, employers are still legally obligated to take all the necessary steps to mitigate known risk factors and to promote a safe and healthful work environment for every worker. At a minimum, an injured worker can file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers. Depending on the nature of the incident, an injured worker may also want to consider filing a third party liability claim. An injured worker can file a third party liability claim when another party bears responsibility for the injury they sustained, like if a trash or recycling compactor or front-end loading system was improperly designed, defective, or failed to provide proper instructions to the user.
In a previous case, our attorneys were able to secure a $535,000 recovery for a client who was injured while working on a copper sanitation line. Due to unsafe electrical conditions, our client sustained an electrical shock while working on the sanitation line. The electric shock caused our client to develop reflex sympathetic dystrophy, or RSD, and exacerbated his pre-existing cervical spondylosis as well. Altogether, our client accrued nearly $30,000 in medical expenses from the injuries he sustained in the accident. Our attorneys successfully settled the case on the second day of trial.
If you sustained injuries and have questions about filing a workers’ compensation or third-party liability claim, an experienced attorney at our firm can help. To learn more about filing a claim, contact a representative online now.
Galfand Berger LLP has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.