Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates – It’s hard to believe that our last update was posted just a week ago. So much has changed, where do we begin? First, let’s talk about ourselves and our co-workers. This week OSHA updated their guidance to help prevent worker exposure to Covid-19. I am impressed that they included guidance specific to solid waste workers. Thankfully, the new guidance does not alter the basic precautions that apply to our normal waste handling practices. See the full guidance here.
Many employers and workers are confused by the evolving restrictions and recommendations. Today, the President of the United States issued updated Coronavirus Guidance for America. This guidance states that: “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.” Thus, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help ensure continuity of functions critical to public health and safety. Within that list, the solid waste industry has been specifically designated as critical infrastructure under the Public Works category as well as under the Transportation and Logistics category. The CISA designation provides State and local authorities the necessary guidance to recognize our role in the public health and safety arena. The official memo can be read here.
In addition, SWANA has issued a press release that reminds all state and local governments that solid waste management is an essential public service and that it should be included in emergency orders issued in response to the current situation.
The previously released SWANA Guidance on Coronavirus document is also still relevant and available.
SWANA Releases 2019 Solid Waste Fatality Data – Although it is hard to remember a time before we knew what COVID-19 was, we all have to remember that basic safety still has to be Job #1 in the solid waste industry. OSHA’s numbers for 2019 have not been released yet, but according to SWANA’s data, there were at least 53 solid waste worker fatalities in 2019. This represents a small decline from 2018, but is still much too high for us to relax. We must continue our daily commitment to decrease the number of injuries among our co-workers and colleagues. Read the full report.