Resource Recycling News

SWANA tallies 52 industry on-the-job deaths last year

Worker unloads waste bin into collection truck on a residential street.

For 2020, SWANA reported 36 collection/transportation worker deaths, the same number as 2019. | Eric Buermeyer/Shutterstock

The number North American MRF workers killed on the job last year decreased, but the total number of garbage and recycling sector deaths remained flat, according to industry data.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) recently released its tally of industry deaths in 2020. The organization counted 52 on-the-job fatalities, most of them involving collection. The number was down slightly from 53 in 2019.

“There continues to be too many avoidable fatal incidents in and involving the solid waste industry,” David Biderman, SWANA’s executive director and CEO, stated in a press release. “This trend has continued into 2021, with 17 fatal incidents recorded in the first two months of the year. We can and must do better.”

For 2020, SWANA reported 36 collection/transportation worker deaths (unchanged from 36 in 2019), 4 landfill deaths (down from 11 in 2019), 1 MRF death (down from 4 in 2019), 3 transfer station deaths (up from 1 in 2019) and 3 mechanic deaths (none noted in 2019). Another 5 industry employees with unrecorded job locations were killed in 2020 (there were none in 2019). In 2019, one worker at a C&D debris facility died.

In 2020, 76 members of the public in the U.S. and Canada were killed in crashes involving a collection vehicle, down from 80 in 2019.

As it has in past years, SWANA published an interactive Google map showing where the deaths occured.

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