The Dangers Faced By Sanitation Workers

Posted on: 13 January 2015

Sanitation workers that perform trash removal services for homes and businesses face a host of physical and biological dangers. Some risks are present because of the nature of their jobs, but many are preventable and caused by carelessness on the part of the customers. These risks include:

Danger of physical injuries

Sanitation workers must lift heavy trash cans on a consistent basis, which may lead to repetitive stress injuries to back, shoulder, and other muscle groups. Because many customers have trash cans that they can wheel to the curb for pickup, they may not be aware of the weight of the trash in the container.

Consideration should be shown by not always filling trash cans to capacity. Now that recycling is a popular option, much of the trash that is lighter in weight goes into the recycling bin, leaving most of the heavy food trash behind.

Customers who refrain from using trash cans and just use green plastic bags should be aware that sanitation workers cannot see through them. If items such as broken glass or other sharp objects are placed in trash bags, sanitation workers could be severely injured when they lift the bags. Sharp objects should be carefully wrapped in multiple layers of newspaper or cardboard, and secured  with tape or placed in a smaller bag.

Pressurized aerosol cans can explode if crushed in the compactor of a trash collection truck, causing serious injury to the operator of the compactor. Refer to options on the back of aerosol cans for proper disposal.

Risk from exposure to medical waste or other biological or chemical agent

Along with the risks of physical injuries, sanitation workers may be exposed to infectious disease, poisonous substances, or caustic materials, such as:

  • Used syringes. This problem is especially prevalent in urban areas, and exposes sanitation workers to possible HIV, hepatitis, and other blood borne pathogen infection.
  • Caustic materials. Sources of caustic burns can include old batteries and drain cleaner. Both can burn the skin or cause blindness if it reaches the eyes.
  • Poisons. These may include insecticides or rat poison, both of which can be absorbed into the skin. Although they may be not be in sufficient quantities to cause fatalities in adults, even smaller quantities, when absorbed over time, can cause neurological problems in otherwise healthy adults.

In short, although you may not often see the individuals from companies like Sullivan Refuse Inc who perform your trash removal, you should respect the valuable service that they perform, and be considerate when you dispose of our trash.