Residents of Florida may be surprised to hear that the sanitation industry is one of the most dangerous among civilian occupations. In 2016, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the collection of refuse and recycling materials ranked five among such occupations with the highest fatal injury rates. Workers can suffer sprains, strain, overexertion injuries and even exposure to dangerous materials.
Most of these hazards can be avoided or at least mitigated if all sanitation companies used automated side-loaders. Unfortunately, many still use manual loaders. There are steps that sanitation employers can take to protect their workers, however. One step is to install rearview cameras and other technology on their trucks. To keep employees from getting complacent, ongoing training is also recommended.
Some guidelines from the Solid Waste Association of North America could be incorporated in the training. For example, the SWANA advises workers to wear protective equipment, such as high-visibility vests; wear their seatbelts; and refrain from using their phone. The American National Standards Institute has set up some basic guidelines as well: workers should only ride in the cab or on the riding steps, should step off the steps when the truck is backing up at more than 10 mph and should never ride on the loading sills or in hoppers.
Even when employers provide adequate training and take all precautions, employees can be injured through their own fault. Such employees can still be eligible for damages; all they have to do is file a workers' compensation claim. By doing so, they waive their right to sue their employer. They also must show that the accident was indeed work-related. This is where a lawyer might come in and review the case. This state allows victims and the workers' comp insurance company to negotiate a settlement, so a lawyer may be helpful at this stage.