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The dangers of being a garbage collector

Working in the garbage industry is more dangerous than you might think. In any physically demanding job, there's a chance of injury. But a refuse worker's chance of injury--and even death--on the job is surprisingly high.

In today's post, we examine some of the key risks garbage collectors faces on the job--and the laws in place to protect them.

Safety risks

Collecting garbage requires repeatedly bending, twisting and lifting heavy loads all day long. In such an environment, the risk of overexertion injuries--such as sprains and strains--is particularly high. In addition, sanitation workers regularly come into contact with dangerous materials--such as sharp, dirty objects or hazardous waste. Such materials and equipment are dangerous and can injure or mame a worker.  Injuries such as cuts, amputated fingers and arms as well as high risks of infections.  While protective equipment and safety training can help minimize the risk of such injuries, other factors outside of garbage workers' control place them at additional risk.  

Fatalities

In addition to the above health risks--which an employer can play a key role in minimizing--a refuse worker's chance of dying on the job is the fifth highest in the country. A whopping 33 out of every 100,000 garbage collectors die on the job--which is higher than police officers, construction workers and miners. Seven sanitation workers were killed in the first 10 days of this year alone.

In nearly all cases, the cause of such fatalities is other drivers. When a driver swerves around a garbage truck, their chance of hitting a garbage collector is high. For this reason, Georgia recently passed an amendment to the Move-Over Law--requiring drivers to move over one lane when driving past garbage trucks, police cars or assistance vehicles. If heavy traffic prevents a car from moving over, they must slow down to 10 miles mph below the speed limit.

Legal recourse

When a worker is injured on the job, workers' compensation provides medical care and replacement income (if the injury disables you from work). You should immediately file a workers' compensation claim.  If your claim has already been denied, please read this article for some common reasons for claim denials.  

In those unfortunate events where a work injury results in death, workers' compensation provides benefits to the workers' dependents.  If a garbage worker is killed or seriously injured by another driver on the road, that third party can be also held responsible and additional money may be recovered from that negligent person.   Consulting with an experienced workers' compensation and personal injury attorney is a good first step to understanding one's legal options.  

Our office has represented injured workers in workers' compensation claims, injured garbage workers in injuries described in this article, workers killed at work, catastrophic injuries, and personal injury claims.  We are ready to help you understand your options.  Email at this link and we will respond as soon as possible.  Or, call us anytime.  The consultations are free.   

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