Coronavirus Safety Recommendations for Waste and Recycling Workers

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To be socially responsible and prevent the spread of Coronavirus, the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has postponed its SWANApalooza conference that was scheduled to take place at the end of March. According to Johns Hopkins University, over 120,000 people worldwide have been infected with the Coronavirus, and there have been more than 4,300 fatalities. To ensure that waste and recycling workers are safe and protected from unnecessary exposure, SWANA and the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA) are closely following the issue and have released guidance for workers.

SWANA believes that solid waste workers are not at an increased risk for contracting the virus. The guidance, which can be found on the organization’s website, states that no extreme safety precautions are currently necessary to protect workers who are responsible for handling municipal solid waste, beyond the traditional safety practices. If workers suspect that waste is contaminated, they should use the appropriate engineering and administration controls and ensure that they use the recommended personal protection equipment (PPE).

Recommendations for Employers

Although extreme measures have not been discussed, any employee who is sick should be strongly encouraged to stay home. In addition, the workplace should be thoroughly cleaned, and employers should refer to and follow all updates provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Any employee who has a family member who is sick should share this information with their employer.

According to the NWRA’s Healthcare Waste Institute, any worker who treats waste from homes where there are known cases of Coronavirus is advised to treat the waste the same way they would for the flu. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) also recommended that members follow the CDC’s guidelines and modify them based on the specific needs of recyclers. Washington State’s Kings County Solid Waste Division has had to handle more cases of the virus than anywhere else in the United States, but they do not believe that their facility’s employees or haulers are at an increased risk of exposure. In fact, the county’s Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is currently operating as normal.

The Coronavirus has had, and will likely continue to have, a significant impact on the economy. Major industry conferences and events have been cancelled, and others will likely be postponed. According to Waste Management, it is unclear how this will ultimately impact the waste and recycling industry. It is difficult to predict what the ripple effect is going to be and how it will impact the supply chain. It is hoped that the smaller businesses will recover and that they can retain all their current employees.

Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Workers Exposed to the Coronavirus

If you work in the waste and recycling industry and are concerned that you may have been exposed to the Coronavirus, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will ensure that you receive the full financial benefits that you are entitled to, and that your legal rights are protected. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.