Its a windy, rainy day in northern New Jersey today and, as I drive through my town, I see the sanitation trucks are out to collect garbage and paper recyclables as early as they can before everything is soaked. My town roads are basically paved horse trails so imagine narrow, winding roads with lots of sharp curves with a posted speed limit of 25 MPH. So why is one of the garbage trucks going about 35MPH on one of these roads with a soaking wet worker standing on the trucks rear platform clinging with a death grip to the side? Is it that important to get the garbage in as fast as possible? Why is the worker not in the truck if they are not making stops? Does one of these workers have to die before this sanitation company takes steps to stop these stupid and unsafe acts?
As an experienced Safety Professional, Im trained to recognize compliance-driven and non-compliance "best practice" occupational safety violations. However, what does it take to change laws and habits that affect workers and citizens? In our society and legal system it seems that, yes, someone (or many) has to tragically die before change and regulation are considered.
Lets review some of our history:
1911: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York resulted in 146 worker deaths due to locked escape routes leading to local then nationwide Life Safety Laws.