Those employed in the sanitation industry face a number of on the job risks every day they go to work. While many sanitation workers have been injured on the job, many more face health risks from working around unsanitary conditions, chemicals, and other toxins.
As a result of the unsafe working conditions sanitation workers face, New York City parks department worker call in sick an average of five days during the 2010 fiscal year. For NYC sanitation workers, the call off number of days was 11.5 days. While the data obtained may not be completely scientific, meaning workers can call off for any number of reasons, but there are health risks associated working around the elements facing sanitation workers in the city and beyond.
First, the fumes of riding in and on the garbage trucks each day can certainly cause health issues and respiratory failure. Second, sanitation workers collect waste from the public which could contain harmful contents at any time. Waste products, especially known toxins can lead to sickness.
In addition to the health risks caused by collecting waste products and traveling in a congested city, sanitation workers also suffer from a large amount of fall incidents when entering or exiting the large sanitation trucks. Head injuries and broken body parts are a common result of such falls. Employees collecting trash are also susceptible to back injuries and other muscle-related problems caused by heavy lifting, throwing, and bending.
Working in sanitation is certainly a dirty job but someone has to do it. There should be proper training for workers to learn lifting techniques as well as preventing falls from the truck. Toxins and chemicals should also be addressed so collectors know how to handle waste products that can be dangerous to their health. Protective equipment including gloves, face masks, and hard hats should be provided to provide proper safety.