March 29, 2019
SWANA has recorded 22 solid waste-related deaths during the first month of 2019 in the U.S. and Canada, an unprecedented run of fatalities. Eight workers died on the job in January, and 15 members of the public were killed in collisions with waste vehicles. January 2019 now unseats the previous worst month for fatalities, January 2018, when 19 people were killed. It should be noted that virtually none of the January 2019 fatal incidents were due to snow or winter weather driving conditions.
Aside from the sheer number of fatal incidents in one month’s time, it is notable that four of the worker deaths occurred at landfills. For all twelve months of 2018, SWANA only recorded nine worker fatalities at landfills. Additionally, four of the 22 incidents in January occurred in Canada, compared to four in the entire country for all of 2018.
Identifying that we have a problem is only the first step, as we now need to come together as an industry to put a stop to this epidemic of tragic events. SWANA provides free resources on its Safety Matters webpage, which contains valuable tools for both collection and post-collection.
Our recent webinar, Improving Collection and Post-Collection Safety Practices, is now available for sale as a recording on SWANA.org. This offers a great opportunity for a team to refresh its safety training.
SWANA will also host numerous safety events this year and the issue will be discussed at SWANApalooza in Boston, Massachusetts, February 25-28, as well as at SWANA’s 7th Safety Summit at WASTECON® in Phoenix, Arizona, October 21-24.
Everyone is urged to take the SWANA Safety Pledge to demonstrate their commitment to making the rest of 2019 a safer year. Together, we must consider worker, customer, and public safety in every decision that we make.
Accidents in the News Through January 31, 2019
Wolcott, NY – A 77-year-old man died after driving his car into a garbage truck that was stopped for collection. No one was in the truck at the time of the crash. MORE
Beckley, WV – A garbage truck was turning and collided with a Jeep Wrangler travelling north, killing the 35-year-old man driving the Jeep. MORE
Oskaloosa, KS – A 59-year-old worker was operating a tipper at a landfill when he was crushed to death between a backing semi-trailer and the dock. MORE
Midlothian, TX – An SUV ran into the back of a garbage truck headed in the same direction. The driver of the SUV was killed. MORE
Westminster, CA – A 40-year-old motorcyclist was struck and killed after trying to pass a garbage truck on the right-hand side. MORE
Denton County, TX – A tractor-trailer and a garbage truck collided on a highway, causing the garbage truck to tip over and killing the driver. MORE
Longmont, CO –A 39-year-old driver was turning left at a stop sign when he was struck and killed by a garbage truck. MORE
Vancouver, BC – A garbage truck was struck by a train at a railroad crossing, killing the truck driver. MORE
Washington County, IL – A 51-year-old man was killed after he failed to stop at a stop sign and his vehicle was struck by a garbage truck at the intersection. MORE
New Orleans, LA – A 52-year-old spotter was killed after being struck by a bulldozer and then buried under debris. The worker went missing and was later found by a search and rescue team in the landfill. MORE
Lewisburg, TN – An employee at a landfill was struck and killed by a dump truck while assisting a disabled motorist near the landfill entrance. MORE
Stockwell, IN –A vehicle crashed into the back of a stopped garbage truck, killing the 27-year-old driver of the car. A worker on the back was able to jump out of the way prior to the collision. MORE
Toronto, ON –A woman sleeping on a grate was struck by a garbage truck reversing down an alleyway. MORE
Daly, CA – A 58-year-old garbage truck driver struck a parked car and then ended up outside of the truck, becoming crushed between the vehicles. MORE
Bronx, NY – A 28-year-old police officer who had just come off of duty drove head-on into an NYC Parks Department garbage truck. MORE
Toronto, ON – A garbage truck making a right turn struck and killed a man when he fell onto the roadway and was hit by the truck. MORE
Jacinto City, TX – A man crossing on a red light at an intersection was struck and killed by a garbage truck. MORE
Montreal, QC – A 79-year-old woman was struck and killed by a garbage truck that was exiting an alley and turning. MORE
Morton, WA – A vehicle crossed the center line and struck a garbage truck head-on, killing the 63-year-old vehicle driver. MORE
Mariposa, CA – An 83-year-old male driver was killed after colliding head on with an oncoming garbage truck after crossing the double yellow center line on a curve. MORE
Columbus, GA – A garbage truck transporting tree limbs and yard waste collided with another vehicle, killing the 63-year-old driver of the car. MORE
Fort Worth, TX – A 31-year-old woman was killed at a MRF when a 1-ton bale of recycled material fell on her. MORE
The Lebanon Solid Waste Division, in partnership with the Lebanon Fire Department, is asking for your help to prevent landfill fires.
Nationally, fires at solid waste facilities have increased by 40%. That increase is also being seen here in Lebanon. Over the past several months, the Lebanon landfill has extinguished 6 fires.
These fires were quickly responded to and extinguished by the Solid Waste Division staff.
Fires do happen at landfills. There are thousands that occur annually around the county.
They can be started when someone throws stove ash out with their trash, compactors run over improperly disposed of electronics, or when chemicals are combined in the back of a garbage collection truck.
Improper Disposal of Electronics
Most of the fires at the Lebanon Landfill have been directly related to improper disposal of electronic devices that have lithium-ion batteries.
Handheld devices like cell phones, tablets, e-readers, and other battery-operated devices are discarded with someone’s trash and then run over with the landfill trash compactor.
The result is immediate ignition with flames.
This is extremely dangerous. Find out how to dispose/recycle electronics on our “What Goes Where?” page.
The Hidden Dangers of Batteries
There are hidden dangers tied to improper handling and disposal of batteries at their end-of-life.
Many consumers are unaware of these dangers, which has led to a surge in fires at recycling and waste facilities across the country.
A recent article in Resource Recycling surveyed 119 MRFs nationwide on the topic of lithium-based batteries entering their waste stream, with 50% of respondents seeing an increase in fires the past two years and 89% experiencing or suspecting fires caused by lithium-based batteries.
Disposing Ashes and Embers
Garbage cans, garbage trucks, garages, homes and grass fires are just some of the situations in which hot embers have ignited and caused massive damage.
Here are some tips for dealing with hot ashes/embers:
- Ashes/embers can stay hot for days after a fire.
- When disposing of ashes outside DON’T dump them on a combustible surface.
- Use water to wet the ashes/embers to make sure they are completely out.
- Only use an approved metal ash bucket. It should have a tight fitting metal lid and a double-bottom.
- Don’t dump ashes outside on a windy day. The wind can whip up what may have seemed cool embers, making them fiery hot and sending them traveling to ignite nearby combustibles.
- Never burn garbage, wrapping paper, plastic, cardboard or anything not specifically approved for use in a fireplace.
These items can lead to a chimney fire, can cause large embers to exit the flue igniting nearby combustibles AND the ashes/embers can be unpredictable.
- NEVER dump ashes into a plastic container, cardboard box, bag, or anything or place where combustible fluids of fumes are present.
The Bottom Line
We need your help. The Solid Waste Division offers several recycling programs for items that can cause fires that could impact public health and/or the environment. Items like electronic devices, rechargeable batteries, automotive batteries, and household hazardous wastes are collected for recycling or proper disposal.
Lebanon is also fortunate to have a dedicated and well-trained staff.
Every day they come to work to serve residents and businesses from the Upper Valley.
Doing Your Part
The next group needed to help fight fires are the residents and businesses throughout the Upper Valley. We need you to do your part and participate in regular recycling programs and household hazardous waste events to keep these items out of the landfill and reduce the dangers associated with them. Your participation is critical to the success of these diversion programs. Find out how to dispose/recycle electronics on our “What Goes Where?” page.
If you have questions regarding recycling or proper disposal of an item, please check out the Lebanon Solid Waste & Recycling site at LebanonNH.gov/SolidWaste or email Marc Morgan, Lebanon Solid Waste Manager, at email@example.com.
On the heels of heightened recycling contamination standards, single-use plastic reduction efforts, and overall pushes for sustainable social and business practices, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) launches SWANApalooza 2019, the premier technical gathering for professionals to explore environmental solutions for integrated solid waste management, coming to Boston, Massachusetts from February 25–28.
Its first time held in New England, SWANApalooza will focus on “Building the Future,” offering an inaugural view of the future of solid waste management through the lens of public sector entities, private companies, and consultants in the area. Boston offers a premier backdrop for the event, leading the charge in zero waste initiatives and serving as an example for cities in the Northeast and across the country for environmental priorities.
At SWANApalooza, explore opportunities for domestic recycling, marine litter initiatives, landfill technical operations, and safety best practices with experts, government officials and top professionals from a range of industry areas. Gain entirely new perspectives, embrace industry progress, and discover the future of solid waste and recycling at SWANApalooza in Boston!
This SWANA program provides an opportunity for technical, regulatory, and legal perspectives on Per-and Polyfluoralkyl Substances (PFAS) and other emerging contaminants as they relate to landfills, leachate, and associated health risks. PFAS have been identified in landfill leachate and groundwater monitoring wells at levels above the 20 ppt drinking water health advisory level established in Vermont in 2016. Can PFAS releases from landfills lead to PFAS levels above 20 ppt in drinking water? What are the concerns over exposure to PFAS? What options are available for evaluating and mitigating PFAS risks? Information shared by a panel of experts will help shed light on these issues and identify remaining uncertainties as knowledge and regulation of PFAS and other emerging contaminants continue to develop.