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August 5, 2021

Photo courtesy of Interstate Waste Services

SWANA reports decline in fatal incidents in 2021

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), based in Silver Spring, Maryland, reports a decrease in solid waste worker fatalities in the first half of 2021. Preliminary data collected by SWANA show 50 percent fewer on-the-job deaths compared with the previous three years.

“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,” says David Biderman, SWANA executive director and CEO. “I am concerned about a seasonal uptick in accidents and injuries over the summer. I 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,” he adds.  

According to a news release from SWANA, the most common event leading to a worker’s death in 2021 is being struck by a waste vehicle or heavy equipment. Single-vehicle accidents that involve a waste collection vehicle, which was 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 with previous years, with 43 deaths so far. Incidents of pedestrians being struck by collection vehicles are up significantly with 12 so far this year, compared with 13 in 2020.