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The Most Dangerous Job in NYC? Commercial Waste

According to the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), commercial waste work is the most dangerous job in New York City. The high rate of serious injuries and fatalities in this trade are the result of non-union commercial waste companies failing to implement safety guidelines and wantonly violating OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements.

In its new report “Dirty and Dangerous,” the agency found instances of worker fatalities, chemical exposures and amputations that occurred on the job. In each of these cases, the employer failed to eliminate or reduce the hazardous conditions that caused the workers’ deaths or injuries. Further, the report found that sanitation workers are 10 times more likely to be killed on the job than any other worker and those who are victims of workplace injury or death are more likely to be minorities.

NYCOSH listed six types of workplace hazards that the agency found to have the most harm potential to these workers: biological (exposure to blood-borne pathogens or organic dust), chemical (diesel exhaust, hydrogen sulfide, odor control chemical products), ergonomic (fatigue, work-related musculoskeletal disorders), physical (occupational noise), safety (struck by or caught in machinery or an object) and stressor (wage theft, lack of access to toilet facilities).

“Although organized crime no longer dominates New York City’s private sector waste trade, some commercial waste operators continue to routinely violate legal requirements with impunity, particularly with regard to occupational safety and health and with regard to wage and hour issues,” the report states. “These licensed businesses fail to provide the safe working conditions, practices, training, equipment, and oversight that are required by law, that are recommended by industry associations, and that are technically and economically feasible. Through their ongoing inaction and noncompliance, these employers directly cause unnecessary and avoidable employee injury, illness, and death. The resulting injuries, illnesses and fatalities are not inevitable; there are known and effective methods for preventing, eliminating, or reducing these hazards and exposures.”

To rectify these problems, NYCOSH made a series of recommendations for the city, including making sure all nonunion commercial companies comply with federal safety standards and wage and hour laws; prosecute waste operators on provable grounds that at least one worker fatality was caused by the employer’s willful inability to follow the law and indifference to employee safety; provide safety features on garbage trucks to prevent the vehicles from moving while compacting operations take place; and provide locker, shower and toilet facilities at work locations where employees start or end their shift.

If you have been injured, or a loved one hsa been kille on the job as the result of an employer's disregard for employee safety and failure to have any safety standardsin place, contact an attorney who is experienced in representing victims of these incidents. Call Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP at (212) 571-7171.


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