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Keyword: department of public works

By Jeanette Garcia Polasky, Communications Specialist, Department of Public Works

How dangerous is your job? When we think of deadly professions, we tend to think of mining, construction, law enforcement and firefighting. Oddly enough, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those jobs are not among the top ten civilian occupations with the highest fatality rates. In fact, the five civilian occupations with the highest fatality rates in 2017 were fishing, logging, piloting/flight engineering, roofing and refuse and recyclable material collection.

You read that right – the men and women who cart away more than 250 million tons of trash, recycling and organic materials generated by Americans each year have one of the nation’s deadliest occupations. In fact, waste collection has an incidence rate of 35 fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers, ten times the national average! (I’ll keep that statistic in mind the next time the lid to my trash can goes missing.)

What makes solid waste collection such a dangerous profession? Falls, slips, trips, fires, explosions and contact with dangerous, heavy equipment all cause fatalities among collectors. However, across all occupations, transportation incidents were the most common cause of fatal injury, which is not news to waste collectors.

“Most people don’t realize just how dangerous the solid waste management field can be,” said Tim Dunn, Baltimore County’s solid waste superintendent. “It’s important to remember the hardworking people who perform this essential public service when you’re out and about. A little bit of extra care and caution behind the wheel can go a long way.”

In recent years, the National Waste and Recycling Association and the Solid Waste Association of North America made it a priority to pass “slow down to get around” (SDTGA) legislation in states across the country, including Maryland SB 445, which was signed into law last year. These laws require drivers to slow down and change lanes when approaching waste management vehicles from the rear.

In addition to following Maryland’s SDTGA law, you can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of injury for sanitation workers:

  • Wrap broken glass before disposing of it.
  • Place needles, syringes, razor blades and any other sharp objects in a closed, heavy-duty plastic container for disposal.
  • Do not put household hazardous waste in your trash can. Take it to one of the County’s drop-off centers.
  • Do not use a trash can that exceeds a maximum filled weight of 40 pounds or a maximum capacity of 34 gallons. See the County’s collection set-out guide for more information.

By following a few basic rules, being mindful and showing a little common courtesy, you can help reduce injury and fatality rates not only among waste collectors, but workers across industries.

Have questions about trash and recycling collection in Baltimore County? View a list of collection FAQs on the County’s website or send an email to solidwaste@baltimorecountymd.gov. This article originally appeared in The Resource Newsletter. See past issues and subscribe at baltimorecountymd.gov/theresource


Olszewski encourages people to follow updates on Twitter

County Executive Johnny Olszewski has been briefed by DPW officials on the County’s readiness to respond to winter storms, including the snow event forecast for this weekend.

“Protecting public safety is the top priority when winter weather hits,” Olszewski said. “Our crews are well-trained and our equipment is in good shape so we are ready at the first flake to get the roads salted and plowed as quickly as possible, and we ask for people’s patience as our crews work the storm.”

Real-time Storm Updates Available on Social Media and County Website

Residents and the travelling public can get updated information about Baltimore County’s snow removal operations and road conditions online:

24 hours after the precipitation has stopped, residents may report storm-related issues like unplowed streets using the:

  • BaltCoGo mobile app
  • Baltimorecountymd.gov/stormfighter “Report Now” feature
  • Bureau of Highways phone number 410-887-3560

The County Stormfighter web page provides a link to live traffic camera feeds from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART). It also offers a link to the County’s list of road closures, which provides details on roads that are currently closed due to repairs, accidents, weather or other hazards. This list is updated frequently, so people are advised to check back often for the latest status. State roads and interstates are not included. Information on those roads can be found on the Maryland Department of Transportation’s travel advisories and road closures web page at http://www.chart.md.gov/TravInfo/Default.aspx.

Salting and Plowing Operations

The County stores 91,600 tons of salt in 17 salt barns around the County and replenishes those supplies throughout the winter as needed. The Department of Public Works stands ready to respond with 529 trucks and 554 personnel working from 11 highways shops, plus contractors as needed. The County has budgeted $9 million for storm response for the 2018-2019 season.

In an average snowfall of two to four inches, it takes four to six hours for crews to spread the first application of salt on all County roads. That first application of salt is critical to prevent the snow from bonding to the pavement. With accumulations of less than six inches, crews can generally plow every street within 24 hours after the storm has ended. With a storm of six inches or more, it takes 48 hours or more after the storm has ended to get through every street.

Snowplows start with main County arteries like Joppa Road, Rolling Road, Dundalk Avenue and Owings Mills Boulevard. They then plow feeder roads like Goucher Boulevard and Lyons Mill Road, and move into neighborhood streets including courts and cul de sacs as conditions permit. During a very heavy snowfall, plows may need to be diverted from neighborhood roads to concentrate on keeping main roads open.

Snow Equipment is Inspected, Serviced and Ready to Go

The County’s snow-fighting equipment is in storm-ready condition thanks to the Department of Public Works’ systematic fleet inspection and maintenance program. When snow is forecast, snow plow repairs are given priority over routine equipment maintenance to ensure that they operational.


By Director of Public Works Steve Walsh

We all know to watch out for ice on the roads when frozen precipitation falls from the sky. But, every winter, Public Works receives calls about water freezing on County roads even when the skies are clear and roads are otherwise bone dry. This can happen because of broken or leaking water mains, hydrants, or meters, or seeping ground water — which is especially prevalent this year due to the record-breaking wet weather.

To report any water issue – whatever the season, whatever the reason – constituents should call the Bureau of Utilities at 410 887-7415. This number is manned 24/7.

The Bureau of Utilities investigates, logs and monitors water problems. If a water main or meter is leaking or has failed, the Bureau of Utilities contacts Baltimore City’s water maintenance division which assigns crews to eventually fix the problem. The City schedules repairs based on a priority list and, because the water system is operated by Baltimore City, emergency repairs are in the City’s hands. The County does keep in touch with City utility engineers to ensure that County streets get the attention they deserve.

If the water is determined to be groundwater, solutions are investigated. Groundwater issues are more difficult to resolve however. 

In either case, Utilities coordinates with the Bureau of Highways, as needed, to spread salt on County public roads to ensure public safety.

This type of unexpected road hazard is yet another reason to be sure that you are always paying attention to the road – not your phone!


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017