Waste worker fatalities decline in 2021

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is reporting a decrease in solid waste worker fatalities in the first half of 2021. Through June 25, preliminary data collected by SWANA shows 50% fewer on-the-job deaths compared to the previous three years in the United States and Canada.

“SWANA is pleased by the decline in fatal incidents recorded in the first half of 2021, which continues a trend of year over year reductions since 2018,” stated David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO.

“I am concerned about a seasonal uptick in accidents and injuries over the summer, and urge government agencies, solid waste companies, and others to remind frontline workers about best practices and consider technological and operational changes that can improve their safety performance.”

The most common event leading to a worker death in 2021 is being struck by a waste vehicle or heavy equipment. This was the second leading event in 2020.

Single vehicle accidents in which only a waste collection vehicle is involved, the leading fatal event for workers in 2020, are down. Only one fatality this year was the result of a single vehicle crash.

In addition to worker fatalities, SWANA also tracks events in which a member of the public is killed in a solid waste-related incident.

These fatal events for 2021 remain on average compared to previous years, with 43 deaths so far. Incidents of pedestrians being struck by collection vehicles is up significantly with 12 so far this year, compared to 13 for all of 2020.