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Surge in Waste Worker Deaths: SWANA Pushing to Improve Safety

30 waste workers have died in 2019 and the sharp rise in fatalities in the US and Canada has raised alarms across the industry. To reduce fatality rates, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is urging waste service providers to renew their focus on safety. However, it remains to be seen whether these calls to action will create positive results. 

17 Deaths in 3 Weeks

17 waste workers died in the first 22 days of January. This was more than 1/2 the total number of industry-wide fatalities recorded by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017. This sharp spike in fatalities spurred alarm across the waste disposal industry.

However, the wide variety of causes of waste worker injuries and fatalities means that there are no quick and simple fixes to the problem. Waste workers operate in physically challenging environments where weather, traffic, and other factors cannot be controlled. While better training and the issuance of safety equipment could help reduce the fatality and injury rates, it’s unlikely the industry will ever be entirely safe. 

Causes of Waste Worker Fatalities

Crushing injuries caused by vehicles and trash compactors are leading causes of fatalities in the waste disposal industry. Other causes include motor vehicle collisions, entanglements in moving components, and crushing injuries caused by collapsing piles of waste.

SWANA Pushes Focus on Safety

Alarmed by the sharp rise in fatalities earlier this year, SWANA issued numerous press releases aimed at encouraging waste disposal services to enhance their focus on worker training and education programs. They are also recommending stronger oversight of operations, equipment inspections, and investment in safety technologies designed to prevent accidents and injuries. 

Key factors that could help reduce the rates of waste worker fatalities and injuries include:

  • Focus on Preventing Backovers and Distracted Driving
  • Enhanced Equipment Training
  • Prevention of Needlestick Injuries
  • Providing Workers with Safety Equipment to Prevent Musculoskeletal Injuries
  • Safety Improvements to Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls 

Solid waste disposal is the fifth deadliest job in the nation. When a waste worker suffers an injury or fatality caused by the negligence of an employer, a job injury lawyer can help victims pursue workers’ compensation, personal injury, and wrongful death claims. In Nevada, workers and their families can pursue compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and punitive damages designed to deter future bad acts by the employer.  

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update

March 18, 2020 Udpate.

We have just been given notice that all Hearings and Appeals have been vacated and are off calendar by order the Senior Appeals Officer from the Nevada Department of Administration. It is unknown when the reset dates will occur.

March 17, 2020 Update.

As efforts concerning the containment of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) continue to evolve here in the U.S. and around the world, we want to assure you that Jason D. Mills & Associates remains committed to three important priorities:

Our offices remain open for business; however, we encourage all existing clients to help us limit exposure and the potential spread of COVID-19 by avoiding in-office meetings. We remain open for business virtually during normally scheduled work hours (9:00 am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday). All email, fax, telephone, and other electronic communication will continue without interruption. If you have a scanner please scan documents and send to us in .PDF format. If you do not have a scanner, there are smart phone apps available such as: CamScanner, Adobe Scan and Genius Scan (and many others), that will turn your smart phone into a document scanner at zero or little cost.

Our local courts continue to update and modify their policies and procedures in response to the current COVID-19 situation as well, and we are monitoring those procedures to navigate the impact on your claims. So far, the Hearing and Appeals Office has halted all in-person hearings and is in the process of converting future hearings into telephonic hearings. As we learn more, we will provide updated information.

We also know that many of you have been personally impacted in a number of ways, and we apologize for any inconvenience these modifications may cause you but of course we are all experiencing this disruption together and will get through it together. We will resume normal operations as soon as the local, state and national governments give instructions that it is reasonable to do so. We appreciate your flexibility as we do our part to help bring this unprecedented situation under control.

Again, we are fully operational and are actively working on your claims. If there is anything you need, please feel free to contact our office (telephonically or electronically) during office hours so that we can direct your call and follow up accordingly.