Safety Alert

    A fatal incident occurred in Portland, Oregon on Monday August 21. A 41-year-old woman riding a bicycle was killed at about 1:50 am at the intersection of Southeast Water Avenue and Southeast Taylor Street. A private garbage truck was turning left as the woman was biking through the intersection. The woman collided with the side of the garbage truck resulting in fatal injuries. More information is available here.

    This marks the first solid waste-related fatality we have recorded in Oregon in 2017. Please remember that left-hand turns can be a particularly dangerous maneuver. Extra caution should be exercised whenever making one. Also remember to slow down, check mirrors, begin signaling well in advance of making a left-hand turn, and yield the right-of-way to any approaching vehicle or pedestrian. 


    Safety should be thought of as the rebar that holds together the foundation of a good business. If it is not securely in place, the foundation, and therefore the business, would be in constant danger of failing. The good news is that ensuring that the rebar is securely in place is 100% within our control…we simply need to make sure that an effective safety program is incorporated into every single aspect of our businesses.

    Forget the SIC codes on your OSHA 300A forms for a moment and consider that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 26% of all workplace fatalities in the U.S. were related to Transportation and Material Moving occupations.

    In the solid waste industry, we either have a fleet of collection trucks, trucks and heavy equipment on landfills, or employees working in proximity to truck traffic. This should be viewed by us as an alarming statistic for several reasons. First and foremost, experiencing a serious injury or fatality in the workplace can be devastating to morale…overcoming the injury or loss of a coworker in this manner would be a daunting task for anyone. Additionally, from a business standpoint, a serious workplace injury or fatality would bring about intense scrutiny from OSHA, increased workman’s compensation insurance premiums and bad press, to name but just a few of those business-related items.

    Establishing and enforcing safety rules and procedures for the field and workplace and providing routine safety training to employees is not only a legal requirement, it is the right thing to do. We should all strive to do everything we can to ensure our employees (including ourselves) return home at the end of the day in the same condition as when they arrived at the jobsite. To that end, SWANA and OSHA both offer a multitude of programs, training materials and guidance documents to help anyone who might be looking to bolster their existing safety program.

    SWANA’s “A Compilation of Landfill Gas Field Practices and Procedures” manual has been around for many years. Originally prepared in 1985, it was revised in 1992 and again in August of 2011 by the SWANA Landfill Gas Management Division. This is an excellent document and prepared specifically for the solid waste industry. In 2016, SWANA created a Safety Ambassador program. This program created a Safety Ambassador position within each of the local SWANA chapters to ensure that each chapter has a “live” safety resource available to every member. In recent years, SWANA has also partnered with Blue Ridge Services to provide access to safety training materials on over 70 topics that were developed specifically for landfill operations and activities.

    It is strongly recommended that all SWANA members take advantage of these helpful and informative resources. It is important to remember that by keeping safety intertwined with and at the forefront of every aspect of your business, the foundation of your business will remain strong.