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Dumpster Safety Procedures for Commercial Janitorial Staff

Every commercial facility produces waste, so every commercial facility requires comprehensive dumpster safety procedures. This final collection point for waste, recycling, or compost carries particular risks for employees.

This risk can be severe. A search for “dumpster” in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Accident Search database returns 289 results dating back to 2002, many of them serious enough to cause fatalities.

Here are just a few of the examples of dumpster-related injuries that were reported to OSHA in 2018:

  • OSHA Accident Summary Number 108868.1. In June 2018, an employee of a container company was repositioning materials on the top of a dumpster. During the process, he climbed onto the dumpster’s side rail. The materials broke, the man fell off the rail, and his leg was caught on the way down. The employee broke his hip and went to the hospital, where he had to have surgery.
  • OSHA Accident Summary Number 107030.01. The previous month, an employee at a manufacturing facility was emptying a full trash can into a dumpster. He didn’t notice that the area surrounding the dumpster was littered with stray hydraulic fluid; the staff member slipped in this fluid and fell, fracturing his right hip, and ending with hospitalization.
  • OSHA Accident Summary Number 107468.01. In January 2018, a city worker was trying to reposition debris inside a roll-off dumpster, which involved walking around on the lip of the dumpster’s walls. The worker slipped, and in the ensuing fall, he sustained fractures, bruises, and abrasions on his face, arms, and leg. He was hospitalized for three days following the accident.

While these serious injuries suggest certain dumpster safety procedures — avoid climbing on or into dumpsters, keep the area surrounding them clean, etc. — they represent only a small fraction of the injuries that take place around dumpsters. These accidents are just the catastrophic events reported to OSHA, involving hospitalization and lost work days.

More common, but less easily tracked, are the musculoskeletal disorders associated with handling waste and emptying trash cans into dumpsters. These injuries to the soft tissues of the body typically come from overexertion, like heavy lifting, and are exacerbated by repetitive tasks.

The back is particularly vulnerable to musculoskeletal disorders. In 2016, 38.5 percent of all musculoskeletal disorders resulting in sick time affected the worker’s back. Janitors and cleaners, staff most likely to interact with dumpsters, suffered musculoskeletal disorders of the back in 37.5 percent of all recorded injuries of this type.

Clearly, the risk of working with dumpsters has a real cost to employees and employers alike. Dumpster safety procedures help to reduce the risk.

Establishing Dumpster Safety Procedures in the Workplace

While OSHA hasn’t published official safety rules for working with dumpsters, multiple trade groups and university ergonomics programs have. These are the elements of a dumpster safety plan that most authorities agree reduce injury rates for workers who empty trash cans:

  • Make sure dumpsters are located in a flat, even walking space in the building’s exterior. Uneven surfaces increase the odds of dumpsters and their contents shifting during use, exposing workers to crushing injuries.
  • Keep the space surrounding the dumpster clean and free from fluids, debris, and other impediments. Slipping and falling are dangerous, and are made even more so by the action of emptying a trash can.
  • Avoid repositioning dumpster contents by hand. Likewise, never try to compact contents by stepping or stomping.
  • Never climb in or onto a dumpster.
  • Make allowances for weather. When it’s icy or snowing, de-ice the walking surface surrounding dumpsters. On windy days, be careful with lifting and closing lids. Keep heads clear of the lid path.
  • Before emptying trash cans, make sure no stinging insects or animals will be disturbed — and maybe provoked to attack — during the operation.
  • Only locate dumpsters in areas with plenty of room to maneuver. Tight spaces make staff more likely to contort their bodies in unhealthy ways in order to empty trash cans during manual lifts.
  • Avoid over-filling dumpsters. When they start to get full, instead work with waste haulers to ensure adequate space for additional waste disposal.
  • When manually emptying trash cans, use legs to power the lift. Try to move in a smooth, incremental manner, and avoid twisting during the process.
  • Better yet, employ Bin Dumpers to empty full trash cans into dumpsters. These specialized pieces of material handling equipment lift and empty bins in one graceful motion, removing the ergonomic risks associated with loading dumpsters.

Bin Dumpers can help remove hazards even beyond the question of ergonomics. By controlling the tilting action, they ensure that materials all end up in the dumpster; this removes debris and spills in the disposal area. And because they lift as they tilt, Bin Dumpers eliminate the need to climb onto dumpsters for access.

Safety Features for Bin Dumpers

Using any old Bin Dumper is not enough to prevent all injuries in the workplace, though. The choice of manufacturer makes a significant difference. Without the safety features provided in Simpro Bin Dumpers, even these machines occasionally lead to injuries and even fatalities.

Take these examples, for instance:

  • OSHA Accident Summary Number 201087160. An employee of a packing company used an activated Bin Dumper to help pull himself up onto a ramp in October 2005. When the dumper’s cradle descended, it caught the worker’s pinky, resulting in severe injury and hospitalization.
  • OSHA Accident Summary Number 201493095. In September 2009, a farm worker was using dumping equipment to move melons onto a conveyor. The employee reached through the frame of the dumper to move an empty pallet; when the machine activated, it caught the worker’s hand, resulting in amputation and hospitalization.
  • OSHA Accident Summary Number 015. A farm laborer in California was busy sweeping the floor one day in October 2018 near a Bin Dumper. The machinery either activated or fell, killing the employee.

The machinery in these unfortunate accidents was clearly lacking in safety features. Simpro Bin Dumpers from Solus Group, on the other hand, are packed with protective elements designed to prevent injuries like the ones outlined above.

The unique lift-and-tip motion of the Simpro Bin Dumper keeps weight centered over the frame at all times, improving stability to prevent tipover. Moving parts and hydraulic systems are positioned in the interior of the unit’s frame, preventing contact with operators.

Optional safety features include foot guard panels, which block feet from running beneath the unit; PET-G operator guards, which add an additional layer of protection for operators, even when dumping liquids; and a swing-up locking door, which freezes the operation of the unit when it isn’t fully closed. Simpro Bin Dumpers are even available with compressed-air power systems for areas that are hazardous for electric motors and hydraulic lift cylinders.

Bin Dumpers that comply with international safety standards and CE (European Union) regulations. Contact Solus Group at 314-696-0200 to discuss custom builds and local safety requirements, or learn more about the Solus Group selection of Simpro Bin Dumpers here.

These are just a few of the safety features that make Simpro Bin Dumpers from Solus Group safer to use than many competing models. This devotion to user safety makes Simpro Bin Dumpers an essential element of any ambitious list of dumpster safety procedures.


Accident Report Detail 107030.015 - Employee Slips On Hydraulic Fluid And Fractures Hip.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 23 May 2018. Web. 4 Nov. 2019.

Accident Report Detail 107468.015 - Employee Fall Off Dumpster And Sustains Multiple Fractures.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 13 Feb. 2018. Web. 4 Nov. 2019.

Accident Report Detail 108868.015 - Employee Fractures Hip In Fall From Dumpster.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 24 May 2018. Web. 4 Nov. 2019.

Accident Report Detail 109816.015 - Employee Is Killed When Crushed By Bin Dumper.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 6 Oct. 2018. Web. 6 Nov. 2018.

Accident Report Detail 201087160 - Employee’s Finger Is Ambutated By Bin Dumper.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 14 Mar. 2006. Web. 6 Nov. 2018.

Accident Report Detail 201493095 - Employee Amputates Hand While Operating Dumping Machine.” OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 29 Sept 2009.

Back injuries prominent in work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases in 2016.BLS. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 28 Aug. 2018. Web. 4 Nov. 2019.

Dumpster Safety.Villanova. Villanova University, n.d. Web. 4 Nov. 2019.

OHBS Safety Pages: Dumpster Safety.OregonHBA. Oregon Home Builders Association, Oct. 2017. PDF. 4 Nov. 2019.

Tool Box Talks: Dumpster Safety Basics.Emory. Emory University, Environmental Health and Safety Office, 15 Nov. 2017. PDF. 4 Nov. 2019.