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Celebrating Waste Management Workers on National Garbage Man Day

National Garbage Man Day is June 17th, and it reminds us to pay our respects to the men and women that keep our country clean. While we frequently take time out to honor police and firefighters (and deservedly so), we sometimes overlook the dangerous job that waste management workers do for our communities. Let's take a closer look at the job that sanitation workers perform and think about some ways we can help them out.

Refuse and recyclable material collectors have the fifth-highest fatal-work injury rate in America.

Waste management crews work around large machines, speeding cars, and hazardous materials, making their occupation one of the most dangerous. In addition to deadly accidents, these workers are also susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders and other workplace injuries.

Luckily, modern equipment is making the job easier for waste management workers. Garbage trucks with automated side loaders (ASL) for household trash cans or hydraulic forks for dumpsters make the job safer and less strenuous. Within materials recovery facilities, hydraulic bin tippers lift and dump large loads onto tables for sorting or into chutes for further processing. While many risks remain, these machines are making work safer every day.

What can ordinary people do to help out sanitation workers?

Here are some easy things you can do to make life easier for waste management workers in your area. Celebrating Waste Management Workers on National Garbage Man Day

  1. If you must pass a garbage truck, do so carefully. Many worker fatalities and injuries are due to careless drivers hitting garbage collectors.

  2. Don't overload trash cans. Even though a mechanical arm may dump the can, workers may still need to position it. A bin filled with heavy materials can cause back and shoulder injuries.

  3. Wrap broken glass in newspaper before tossing it in the trash.

  4. Consider thanking your trash collectors with a gift card, thank you note, or even a simple, in-person "thank you."

  5. A cold bottle of water on a hot day also makes an appreciated gift.

  6. Sort your recycling properly — plastic grocery bags should never go in single-stream recycling (Instead, look for collection points in supermarkets.).

  7. Watch where you park on trash day. A little extra courtesy leaving room for trash collectors to access bins can save a lot of time and effort.

Above all, use common sense and common courtesy. Don't leave a stinky or hazardous mess in an insufficient container or bag, and follow any rules that your sanitation contractor shares with you.

Sanitation workers do more than ever to help our environment.

As municipalities explore more recycling and compost opportunities, waste management workers share in the load. These hardworking men and women ensure that waste streams are properly sorted so that as much waste as possible is diverted from landfills. This week is a great reminder to help them help us by showing appreciation and following good practices.


"Garbage Man Day." Garbage Man Day. n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2018.

"National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016." Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Dept. of Labor. 19 Dec. 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2018.

"Waste Management and Remediation Services: NAICS 652." Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Dept. of Labor. n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2018.