Workplace Safety Risks for Garbage Collectors | Scott Goodwin Law

Workplace Safety Risks for Garbage Collectors

by / Wednesday, 17 April 2024 / Published in Workplace Woes
Garbage truck on a street with trash cans next to the road.

There’s no doubt that garbage collection is an essential service in society. However, those who work in garbage collection can face a lot of safety hazards on the job. It’s a very difficult and demanding job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, refuse and recyclable material collectors were among the top ten civilian occupations with the highest rate of fatal work injuries in 2022. Here are a few key reasons why this line of work can be so dangerous. 

Vehicle Accidents

The simple fact that garbage collectors spend a lot of time working on trucks creates a lot of hazards for workers. The general risk of collisions with other drivers who may not be paying attention to the road or driving negligently is a big concern, but there are other factors that can also increase the risk of collisions. For example, garbage collection workers are often out on the road early in the morning or after dark, which can make workers less visible to other drivers. These trucks also often need to navigate tight spaces like alleyways. 

Backing Accidents

Backing accidents are a very common cause of fatal work-related injuries in garbage collectors.  Because of this, there are procedures that should be followed when a garbage truck needs to back up, such as frequently checking both side mirrors, working with a spotter who can see both the driver and blind spots, maintaining eye contact with workers close to the vehicle while backing up, using hand signals to communicate between drivers and spotters, and stopping the truck right away if the driver is unable to see the spotter or if the spotter needs to move. 

Lifting Injuries

Even though garbage collection trucks are often equipped with machinery that lifts cans and dumpsters, this job can still require workers to do a lot of lifting during the day. This can increase the risk of injuries like soft tissue injuries and repetitive stress injuries. 

Hazardous Materials

Not everything is meant to be put out with regular trash collection. Things like syringes, batteries, gasoline, bleach and other corrosive and flammable products have special disposal requirements because of the hazards they can pose to garbage collectors. However, not everybody follows these special disposal guidelines, and when that happens, workers can get stuck by contaminated needles or dangerous chemicals could potentially cause a fire in a truck. 

Issues With Equipment

Things like compressors and hydraulic arms are supposed to help garbage collectors do their jobs. However, it also creates a risk for workers getting caught in and crushed by that machinery in the course of their jobs. 


Over the course of a day, garbage collectors can climb on and off of their truck many times over, which increases the chances of a worker slipping or tripping in the process, which can lead to injuries like sprained ankles or broken bones. 

Contact a Michigan Workplace Injury Lawyer

Everyone should be able to earn a living without having to deal with situations that make their jobs more dangerous than they should be. If you’ve been injured at work, contact a workers compensation lawyer for help right away. Even if it seems like your employer is being cooperative, a lawyer will still be able to help make sure your claim is handled correctly so that you get all of the benefits you’re entitled to. At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer who has helped other victims of workplace accidents. Contact us today to schedule a free case consultation and find out how we can help you.

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