Safe operation of a landfill is only possible with the complete cooperation of all personnel participating in the operation. This cooperation can only be achieved when there is mutual trust and respect between members of management and labor employees. To maintain a safe workplace, management must demonstrate concern for the welfare of all employees. A safe workplace does not mean a workplace free of all risks; it does mean a workplace where every attempt is made, by all involved, to recognize and minimize hazards. Training each employee in the proper procedures to manage those hazards is just one important step in ensuring safe operations.
National Safety Council statistics indicate that injury rates for refuse disposal operations are 14 times the national average for other industries. No data has been presented for landfill operations, but the nature of the work being conducted at a landfill facility presents a special risk to both employees and customers. More than 80 percent of all accidents are caused by unsafe acts. Yet most accidents and resulting injuries are preventable.
Landfill operations involve certain risks because of the potential for encounters with heavy equipment. Hazards occur during collection, transportation and processing; from foreign materials contained in raw materials and from vectors, pathogens, noise, dust, fire, etc. Landfill activities involve risks; however, those risks do not need to be unreasonable.
Fairness to workers requires that training be provided, including a thorough understanding of the risks and hazards present on the job, as well as how to deal with potential hazards.
The economic impacts of unsafe operations cannot be ignored. The effects of accidents and unprotected exposure to occupational hazards can and will overwhelm operational budgets.
The direct cost of treatment for injuries or disabilities, employee death, equipment and facility damage and increased insurance costs are far more than the cost of training and prevention. Furthermore, damage to workers’ morale and productivity will negatively affect the success of the operation.
In addition to fairness and economic concerns, safety on the worksite is mandated by U.S. Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. The Kentucky Occupations Safety and Health Review Commission adopted the regulations contained in 29 CFR part 1910 and Health Standards Board as 803 KAR 2:300 through 2:320. OSHA regulations require employers to make employees aware of hazards they face in the workplace. Additionally, they must be trained to respond to those hazards in a safe manner.
This article is a section taken from the Landfill Manager Certification Manual (page 53). Safety is always paramount in the eyes of employers, and with proper training and motivation, it can be of the utmost importance to employees, also.