It’s not the most pleasant thing to think about, particularly if you’re in our industry, but the facts are clear—trash and recycling workers continue to be among the most dangerous of professions out there. Not only do these workers have a physically intense job, they frequently put themselves in danger just by going to work every day.
The good news is accidents are preventable. There’s something each and every one of us can do to make their jobs safer and it’s a pretty simple idea. It’s called Slow Down to Get Around.
In addition to an action to help keep workers safe, Slow Down to Get Around is a national safety campaign. The results of this campaign have included more awareness from drivers, as well as the passage of laws in many states (including Michigan in 2008) that impose penalties for those who don’t slow down and use caution when passing garbage and recycling, as well as utility trucks, on the road.
But let’s get into the nitty gritty of what using caution in this situation really means. You’re driving down the road and see a garbage or recycling truck stopped in the road ahead of you. If you’re on a straight stretch of road, you should be able to see the truck (and the lights on the back of the truck) from quite a distance. As soon as you see it, please take the following steps:
- Start slowing down as soon as you get close. Don’t wait until you’re practically on top of the truck to put on your brakes or take your foot off the gas.
- Take a minute to look for a worker at the back or side of the truck. In about half of our residential trucks, there will be one person driving the truck and another riding on the back for easy access to the trash at each stop. But even with our automated side load trucks, the driver still gets out of the truck occasionally, so watch for workers coming from the front of the truck as well.
- Check for oncoming traffic. If the coast is clear, slowly pass the truck, taking care to again note the position of the worker before you start passing. If you can’t see beyond the truck or if there is oncoming traffic, just hang out and wait a bit or slowly follow the truck at a safe distance until you can pass. It might delay you a couple of minutes, but it will be a lot safer.
It’s that simple and it could save someone’s life. Thanks for caring!