U.S. waste industry fatalities decline

The number of deaths among workers in the waste management industry fell in 2022.

In its 2022 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) Summary, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the fatality rate for refuse and recyclable material collectors fell significantly from 27.9 per 100,000 full-time equivalents (FTE) in 2021 to 22.6 per 100,000 FTE in 2022, while the national rate for all industries increased.

This is the third consecutive year the rate has dropped for the industry, while the national rate has increased over the same time period.

“While we are pleased with the declining rate of fatalities in our industry, one fatality is one too many,” said National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) interim president and CEO Jim Riley.

“We commend our members for making safety a priority and look forward to continuing our efforts to bring every worker home safely at the end of every shift.”

“Now is not the time to rest on our laurels,” said Kirk Sander, chief of staff and vice-president of safety and standards at NWRA.

“We need to continue to press to improve our industry to get off the top ten and strive for our ultimate goal of zero fatalities.”

The BLS data on workplace injury and illness is published annually, and information on the waste and recycling industry is based on the U.S. Census Bureau definition of the waste and remediation services industry (NAICS Code 562111) as “solid waste collection, hazardous waste collection, other waste collection, hazardous waste treatment and disposal, solid waste landfill, solid waste combustors, and incinerators.”