Picking it Up
Green Collar Blues
Think police officers are more prone to line-of-duty injuries? Think again.
For the past six years, New York City’s sanitation workers—uniformed in green—have experienced a higher rate of line-of-duty injuries than most of the city’s workers, second only to firefighters.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobs performed by sanitation workers are among the most dangerous jobs in the nation, right up there with pilots, fishermen and loggers. In the nation, Refuse and recyclable material collectors had a rate of 33 fatalities per 100,000 workers, compared to a fatality rate of just 3.2 for all workers in 2013.
In New York City, sanitation workers are responsible for picking up 12,000 tons of trash each day, and for sweeping and clearing snow and ice from 6,000 miles of city streets. According to the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, an average New York City sanitation worker will walk 15 miles and lift 26 tons of garbage in one week. In 2013, there were about 1,450 line of duty injuries to sanitation workers and supervisors in the city.
Line of duty injuries to NYC sanitation workers and supervisors in 2013
Harry Nespoli, the president of the association, said that the biggest threats on the job are being hit by other vehicles or picking up garbage with hazardous materials—like needles or acid.
Accidents that sanitation workers experience can be horrific. New York’s Department of Sanitation had its 17th line-of-duty fatality since 2000 when 43-year old Steven Frosch was killed last year. Frosch was performing maintenance on a street sweeper in a Queens garage, when another sweeper struck the man and pinned him between the vehicles. According to the Daily News, Frosch had had been a police officer for five years before trading in his blues for Department of Sanitation green.
Although Nespoli says being hit by a vehicle is the most common cause of injuries, “There’s always the mystery of what you are dumping.” more >
Tons of garbage NYC sanitation workers collect in one day
Hop inside a sanitation rig and meet the cheerful crew who make trash collecting look fun.
— George Liam Steptoe
Hundreds of abandoned vessels are left to rust, leak gasoline and sink in NYC’s waterways.