Data Shows Decline in Waste Industry Fatalities

Date: December 16, 2020

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The waste industry is now the sixth most dangerous occupation in the US, an improvement from being number five in earlier years. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) most recent "2019 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries" report released Dec. 16. According to the report, the workplace fatality rate for "refuse and recyclable materials collectors" declined from 44.3 per 100,000 full-time-equivalent (FTE) workers in 2018 to 35.2 in 2019. However, this is still higher than 35 in 2017 and 34.1 in 2016. There were a total of 43 worker deaths in 2019, down from 57 in 2018, but well above the previous eight-year average of 36.6.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) reported 53 industry deaths in 2019, 40 percent of which involved being struck by a waste vehicle. SWANA also says 11 died at a landfill whereas BLS data show that none did. Only 3 people died at a material recovery facility (MRF), unchanged from previous years. SWANA says it intends to reach out to BLS for additional clarification concerning its 2019 landfill employee category.

"Although the reduction in worker fatalities last year compared to 2018 is welcome, the frequency of these fatal incidents is still above historical averages and remains too high," SWANA Executive Director and CEO David Biderman says. "We expect to report a further decline for the current year when SWANA releases its annual industry safety report for 2020 in connection with our February 2021 Safety Summit.

The BLS data can be found here:
SWANA's report:

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