Garbage and recycling haulers had the fifth-highest death rate of all civilian occupations in 2014, with 27 people losing their lives, updated federal statistics show.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed the refuse and recyclable material collection occupation had a fatal injury rate of 35.8 for every 100,000 full-time equivalent employees in 2014. From a death-rate perspective, only logging, fishing, aircraft piloting and roofing were more dangerous occupations.
The 27 collector deaths in 2014 represented a decrease from the 33 deaths the year before, but the fatality rate rose from 33 to 35.8, according to the National Waste & Recycling Association (NW&RA), which analyzed the data.
“Today’s data update from BLS reinforces the urgency we hold in our industry to drive meaningful improvement in safety performance nationwide, especially for front-line workers,” Sharon Kneiss, president and CEO of NW&RA, stated in a press release. “We have been studying best practices from other industries faced with similar challenges, such as mining, and together we and our member companies, along with other private and public sector organizations, are implementing comprehensive programs that will improve safety for our workers and the communities we serve.”
BLS also tracks deaths by industry, instead of solely by occupation. Within the Solid Waste Collection category, 40 deaths occurred in 2014. The hauling occupation accounted for more than two-thirds of the deaths.