Safety. It’s one of those popular buzzwords that people – especially people in the waste management industry – like to throw around a lot. It sounds good.
When you talk about things like “emergency response plans,” “personal protective equipment,” and “safety guidelines,” it makes you look like you know what you are doing.
In reality, though, what is the status of “safety” at your facility?
-Could you wipe an inch of dust off those emergency response plans? (A plan is useless unless everybody involved knows what they are supposed to be doing. When was the last time you actually talked about the plan and maybe even practiced the plan?)
-Are you using those earplugs to block out high decibels of noise…or are they serving as a fashion accessory? (Personal protective equipment can’t protect you unless you actually use it).
-If you have safety guidelines, are they being enforced? (Do you have a “no scavenging” policy at your landfill? Is it really a policy…or is it a flexible guideline that can be bent a bit when something cool is dumped at the site?)
According to information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2006 waste management employees had the fifth most dangerous job. Waste collection was rated a “high hazard” job with a fatality rate 10 times that of all workers.
At the end of the day, there is only one person responsible for safety: You. Regardless of whether you are the landfill manager or the guy that picks litter twice a week, it’s up to you to know how to work safely and then, most importantly, really do it. Safety is not just a plan, it’s an attitude.