How to Improve Safety for Garbage Trucks

There are many environmental stressors for a garbage truck driver such as changing weather conditions, variations in the waste types they carry and interactions with pedestrians. Garbage truck drivers should be given the right training so that they are educated regarding everything that can go wrong on a routine trip and how they can avoid these mishaps.

There is a hazardous area around the collection vehicle that depends on the blind spot of the vehicle and the braking distance for that particular vehicle. This area should be evident to the driver and the collectors. They should be able to recognise this area instantly so they are able to react quickly and do what must be done. If this hazardous area is misjudged, it can pose a risk to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. There should be proper safety behaviours followed when the garbage truck is running as well. The collectors should be informed of safe riding procedures. Sometimes there may not be sufficient space in the vehicle so there will be a different vehicle they are riding in. But riding steps should not be used to travel along the entire route. Riding steps can be used when the truck is moving for short distances at slow speeds. When standing on the riding steps, the collectors need to be on the constant look out for any obstructions such as parked vehicles, tree limbs etc. that can cause injury.

When the garbage truck is reversing, there shouldn’t be any collectors on the steps. And dismounting from the step should be done only when the vehicle has come to a complete stop and the driver understands the location of the collectors. There should be a signal given by the collectors to the driver before the driver can move the vehicle. This ensures that none of the collectors is in harm’s way. There should be a standard set of signals that should be taught to drivers and collectors that will be kept constant throughout the department so that there is no confusion. Driving a garbage truck requires a slightly different training as the driver has to be aware of the collectors’ location. The driver shouldn’t come to a sudden stop as this can cause the collectors on the riding step to be thrown off the vehicle.

There are safe practices set down for garbage collection vehicle drivers and collectors. They should be educated on these practices before they start on the route. As there is a blind spot at the back of the vehicle, drivers have to be extremely careful when they are backing up. The hazard lights of the vehicle should be turned on and the window should be turned down before they start backing. And there should be nobody on the riding steps when this occurs. If visual contact of the collectors is lost when backing up, the driver should stop immediately until they see the location of all the workers. There will be spotters to communicate with the driver using hand signals. The use of visible colours in the uniforms is very important so that the driver has visual contact with them. And slip resistant footwear should be worn to make sure they remain stable on the riding steps.


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