Who would guess that sanitation work is the fifth-deadliest job in this country? That’s right, sanitation workers are at a greater risk of being killed than even law enforcement officers and firefighters. The statistics are alarming: one worker dies in the waste industry every week in America. Over 80 percent of them work for private companies. If you are one of them and have experienced significant injuries, discussing your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney may be worthwhile.
Private vs. City Employees in NYC
Municipal workers typically follow a compressed route during the day, going from house to house to collect trash from NYC residences. These city employees work standard eight-hour days, earning time-and-a-half for the hours that exceed eight, and double-time for Sunday shifts. They earn what some consider a reasonable salary, and have benefits, including a pension.
In contrast, private garbage collectors from hundreds of companies come out at night in NYC, meandering city streets as they collect trash from city restaurants and businesses. Many of these private companies offer employees a daily flat rate, without limits on the number of hours worked per day. They also refrain from offering benefits, so less experienced collectors wind up here. Many workers put in 18-hour days; others work double shifts and put in 60-80 hour weeks routinely. The push for employees to complete lengthy routes often leads to fatigued drivers who feel pressured to speed, to coast through stoplights, and to otherwise engage in unsafe practices.
Safety Issues in Long Island
The number of safety issues impacting private employees extends beyond those related to long shifts and high expectations. Other problems involve the 10-ton vehicles themselves—20-tons when filled. Breakdowns are all too common, involving everything from transmission problems to brake failure. Some older vehicles have doors that no longer work. Ridiculously, over half of the government inspections of these trucks reveal vehicles that are unsafe to be on the road here in the Big Apple, more than double the number nationally. And many trucks simply don’t undergo testing for years at a time.
Workers, toiling at night, are frequently not provided with reflective clothing, thick safety gloves, or back braces to support them while doing the heavy lifting. They face the danger of losing life and limb if a dumpster slips; dangers from glass and metals that breakthrough bags; and accidents ranging from crushing injuries to concussions due to problems with the trucks. When safety latches malfunction, workers face potential amputations. Additional issues these workers face routinely include:
- Exposure to hazardous materials;
- Overhead obstacles, like wires and tree branches;
- Road obstacles that make maneuvering a large vehicle safely next to impossible.
Personal Injury Help in Long Island
If you’ve been injured due to unsafe equipment or working conditions, the experienced legal team at Falkowitz Law Firm PLLC can help. Get Gary on your side by calling 844-GET-GARY to schedule your free, confidential consultation.
Gary P. Falkowitz is the Managing Partner and Founding Attorney of the Falkowitz Law Firm PLLC‚ one of the premiere personal injury law firms in New York. Gary received his J.D., in 2005 from St. John’s University School of Law and served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.