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Baltimore County News

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Keyword: safety

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


By Louise Rogers, Baltimore County Police Department

Thousands of goods are bought and sold without incident each year on Craigslist, neighborhood online yard sales and other online commerce sites. Still, not all people using these resources are on the “up and up.” Especially during the commerce-heavy holiday season, the Baltimore County Police Department reminds citizens to exercise caution when meeting someone to complete an online transaction.

Police agencies across Maryland and the country have documented theft, robbery and, in a rare case, murder, involving meetings to complete online transactions. The suspects place bogus ads in an attempt to catch unsuspecting victims.

Tips for a safe transaction

Baltimore County Police Department provides the following tips to help you stay safe when making that deal:

  • Do not assume the person you’re meeting is a friend. He or she may seem harmless, but you do not know this person. Don’t let your guard down when exchanging goods and money.
  • Never meet anyone at your home or workplace. You don’t know this person.
  • Insist on meeting at a well-lit, busy place. BCoPD suggests that buyers and sellers meet on the parking lot of one of our police stations. Walk inside the station before the meeting and tell the officer on duty about the planned transaction.

Protect your information, protect yourself

  • Gather as much information as possible about the buyer/seller including, but not limited to, telephone numbers, identifying numbers or avatars provided by the service.
  • Use cash or a secured/proxied form of payment such as PayPal. We discourage use of credit or debit cards because both expose you to identity theft. Avoid displaying large amounts of cash; this attracts predators to the transaction.
  • Keep your personal details to yourself. Don’t give your address, date of birth or the names of family members to the other person in the transaction.
  • Bring a cellphone and, if possible, bring another person with you. If you have to go alone, let other people know where you are going and when.

Finally, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, cancel the deal.


Is that text worth your life?

By Steve Walsh, Director, Baltimore County Department of Public Works

I am definitely not laughing out loud when a guy passes me at 70 mph and he’s texting behind the wheel. Not funny. And possibly deadly.

  • One in four crashes involves a cell phone.
  • A third of all drivers admit to reading or texting behind the wheel.
  • Drivers under 30 years old account for nearly 36 percent of all distracted drivers involved in crashes.

I’m not the first to point out the dangers of this practice, of course. But as Baltimore County’s director of Public Works, whose department is involved with roadway safety, I believe we all have a responsibility to speak out and to protect the innocent.

I understand the temptations of technology. I’ve got kids, so I see the lure of phones, computers and tablets every day. But we need to remind ourselves of the statistics. In just one year, 3,450 people in the U.S. were killed in distraction-related crashes, according to the latest Federal data.

A driver can safely glance away from the road for only about two seconds. Answering a text takes five seconds. At 55 miles per hour, five seconds is enough time to travel the length of a football field.

“Hands free” is the law in Maryland.

Focus on the road and the drivers around you.

Is that text worth your life?

Avoid distractions with these safety driving tips from AAA

  • Put aside electronic distractions. While driving, never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle.
  • Pre-program your GPS and adjust seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before driving.
  • Properly secure children and pets before you start the car.
  • Store loose items that could roll around in the car.
  • Snack smart by avoiding messy foods that can be difficult to manage.

 
 
Revised September 11, 2017