Working as a waste collector, also known as a garbage collector or sanitation worker, is more dangerous than being a police officer, construction worker or a miner, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
On Wednesday, Jan. 9, a 42-year-old Troy man was critically injured while working as a garbage collector on Bennett Lake Road. He was struck by a car driven by an 86-year-old Fenton man. The garbage collector sustained life-threatening injuries, and had surgery last week after being airlifted by Survival Flight to Hurley Medical Center in Flint.
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office did not release his identity. This Troy man is one of thousands of waste collectors who were or will be injured on the job this year.
Refuse and recyclable material collectors hold the fifth most dangerous job in America, according to BLS. In 2016, the most recent year this data are available, there were 34.1 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers. More than 6,000 injuries were nonfatal.
In November 2018, former Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law (Public Act 349 of 2018) an expansion of the “Move Over Law,” which requires drivers to slow to 10 mph below the posted speed limit and move over to the left as much as can be expected when passing police or emergency vehicles on the side of the road.
The law now includes garbage trucks, tow trucks, maintenance and utility vehicles that have amber lights flashing. Violations are a civil offense subject to a $400 fine.
On the Times Facebook page, we asked if any garbage collectors would weigh in on this issue.
Darrell Rogers, who works as a garbage collector in Genesee County, said drivers come close to hitting them on a daily basis.
“Our place has had multiple people get injured and our trucks have gotten hit on many occasions as well. I’m so over that fact I can’t even go to work and make a living without coming close to losing my life on a daily basis,” he said.
Don Rickards, who’s been in the business for more than 50 years, said he’s seen many close calls when he worked in residential areas.
“One guy who I’ve known a lot of years lost a leg to someone rear ending his truck in the fog. Never stopped him, though. He’s still driving and working a rear loader on a commercial route. Big inspiration to a lot of guys,” he said. “Hate to hear when stuff like this happens and pray that the worker involved can make a full recovery.”
Gregory Dillay II, a garbage collector, said he’s been “very fortunate” but he has been hit twice and “escaped many.”
“The families are hurt the worst. I have kids and family that expect me home for dinner each night just like my garbage brothers and sisters,” he said. “Tougher laws to keep everyone safe is a must and fines to get them on the same page.”
The 15 deadliest jobs in the USA
1. Logging workers
2. Fishers and related fishing workers
3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
5. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
6. Mining machine operators
7. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
8. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
9. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
10. Construction laborers
11. Grounds maintenance workers
12. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers and repairers
13. Construction laborers
14. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers
15. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data