On Friday, April 28, 2017, The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) will recognize the National Day of Mourning in Canada and Workers’ Memorial Day in the United States.
Both the National Day of Mourning and Workers’ Memorial Day are part of an international effort on April 28 to remember those lost on the job and to recognize the importance of worker health and safety around the world.
In 2015, Canada recorded 852 workplace deaths and the United States had 4,836. Along with these tragic fatalities, both countries reported hundreds of thousands of injuries and illnesses on the job.
SWANA and its more than 8,500 solid waste professionals in North America will use this Friday to honor the men and women whose lives were lost and to educate workers on keeping themselves and others out of harm’s way. Far too many professionals in this industry are dying or being injured in preventable accidents.
“An alarming number of solid waste workers are killed each year on the route, at the landfill, in the MRF, or at the transfer station,” said David Biderman, SWANA’s Executive Director and CEO. “It is important for all of us to pause and reflect on the industry’s safety record on this day, and commit to changing the safety culture of the waste industry. Nothing we do at SWANA is more important than making sure the hard working men and women who labor in this great industry go home to their families safely at the end of each day.”
Refuse and recyclable materials collection remains the 5th most dangerous job in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This continues an upward trend since 2012, with collection jobs being more dangerous than law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical services providers.
SWANA’s will continue its award-winning safety efforts in the solid waste industry through the Slow Down to Get Around initiative, its chapter-based Safety Ambassador program, and a variety of safety and compliance training workshops and webinars.
Keeping worker safety and health top-of-mind, especially on these days of recognition, “SWANA’s safety program is providing an opportunity to share the best in safety practices regardless of the size of your operation,” said Andrea Trask, Atlantic Canada Chapter Safety Ambassador. “Some initiatives are small, such as weekly emails, which are easily shared to all in the industry. Even these small acts, when shared, can transform a culture to one where safety is at the forefront.”