Since the 1980s, the idea and practice of recycling has continued to expand. Gone are the days of simply placing your bottles, cans and newspapers in a bin at the curb for the sanitation to pick up. Everything from plastic to metal to batteries to electronics and so much more can now be recycled. And while you may feel great about doing your part to help protect the environment, it is important to realize what happens after those recyclables are picked up and the potential dangers awaiting the workers who process these materials.
The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released their list of occupations with the highest worker fatality rate. Waste and recycling collectors were fifth on that list (a list where those jobs have consistently been in the top 10). That is more deaths on the job than electrical power line workers, those who work with iron and steel, farmers and truck drivers. Once of the main reasons for the high placement on the list is due to the alarming increase of accidental deaths at recycling and composting facilities.
The ways in which someone can be injured in the recycling industry take many forms. Heavy machinery is used to transport materials as well as breakdown and consolidate them. Forklifts, cranes and compactors all pose a chance of someone being maimed or crushed either by materials falling off the equipment or workers being pulled into defective machinery that may not have the correct safety features. Employees who work directly with electronics or batteries face the risk of being exposed to toxins, including lead. Even workers on pick-up routes have to be worried about being struck by vehicles trying to get around the recycle trucks. This has become such a problem that nine states in the south and Midwest now have laws instructing motorists to slow down when approaching and passing waste or recycling trucks where workers are jumping on and off.
The opportunity to recycle is becoming easier every day. Train stations, city streets and even major sports stadiums have been placing multiple disposal bins out to encourage recycling. With more opportunity though comes more work for the men and women at the recycling and composting plants. Safety precautions must be taken on all fronts to make sure that an effort to protect the environment does not cost someone his/her life. If you or someone you love has been injured in an industrial accident, it is imperative you have an attorney who will ask the right questions to find out who is at fault and make them take responsibility. Please call the experienced attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., today.