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Automated Garbage Trucks Proposed to Reduce Worker Injuries

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Workers’ Compensation on Sunday, September 16, 2012

Most of us have dragged heavy trash bags to the garbage bin or the curb. When full, garbage bags can get very heavy and contain sharp-edged objects that we must watch out for or risk getting cut. Workers who take the garbage away must pick up and toss such bags thousands of times per shift, if they have old-fashioned trucks.

Repetitive-stress injuries to the back and other parts of the body are common among sanitation workers, leading to missed work and workers’ compensation bills. That is why Columbia’s Public Works Department is proposing a pilot project to explore replacing the city’s fleet of garbage trucks with new trucks with roll carts, which would automate the process of loading trash bags and reduce the strain on workers’ bodies.

The City of Columbia suggests that trash collectors stretch to improve muscle strains, but nearly all workers report some amount of pain. There were 13 workers’ compensation claims filed by garbage workers in fiscal year 2011. The department estimates the move would reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims by 75 percent, saving the city nearly $100,000 per year. The city council will hear the proposal at a hearing scheduled for Sep. 17.

Meanwhile, there are ways residents can help reduce the risk of injury to garbage collectors. For example, they can avoid overfilling the bags. A Columbia ordinance limits bag weight to 50 pounds. If they have sharp or jagged refuse, they can place it in the center of the bag and put on a label warning the collector.

Source: Columbia Missourian, “Roll-cart system could reduce worker injury, cut compensation costs,” Ruisha Qian, Sep. 16, 2012

Our law firm represents people who have been injured on the job. For more information, please visit our Missouri workers’ compensation page.

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