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Safety is a top priority for National Waste & Recycling Association and its members. Our work is focused on making trash collection, processing and disposal operations less dangerous by encouraging safety training, assistance for compliance with regulations, company safety rules and policies. NWRA is also ANSI Secretariat for industry standards.

Industry Leadership

Our efforts to reduce incidents including fatalities, injuries, and accidents are making a difference, however, the vital work of improving safety in our industry is ongoing. After a 12 year high in 2003, fatalities fell by more than half by 2007. Since then, fatalities have been trending upwards according to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There were 33 fatalities of refuse and recyclable material collectors in 2013, and in 2014, there were 27 fatalities according to BLS released in September 2015.  While the number of fatalities declined from 2013 to 2014, the rate of fatalities rose from 33 to 35.8 per 100,000 workers in the same period.

In the past three years, NWRA, its member companies and state chapters have successfully championed the passage of Slow Down to Get Around laws in nine states to protect workers in our industry, as many injuries and fatalities are caused by inattentive and distracted drivers and pedestrians.

NWRA supports a number of initiatives at no cost with the goal of promoting industry-wide safety. These include:

  • Safety Stand Down
  • Safety Professional Development Series

NWRA offers a wide range of comprehensive safety programs for its member companies, including:

  • Safety Monday, a relied upon source of weekly safety tips used as a tool by member companies as part of their safety awareness and training efforts. If you are not a member, please contact Kirk Sander at to discuss purchasing a Safety Monday license. 
  • Safety manuals that are available for drivers and workers in our industry
  • Temporary worker safety training
  • Commercial vehicle safety inspection demonstrations and briefings
  • Hosted safety seminars at member company locations nationwide
  • Online safety-related webinars and safety-focused education sessions at NWRA events

OSHA Compliance

Industry safety compliance is verified by the government with inspections conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and approved state organizations. OSHA has become more aggressive over the past few years and the fines assessed against waste and recycling employers have increased significantly. A new OSHA inspection is started nearly every day at a waste or recycling workplace, resulting in an average penalty of $1,800 (up from $800 just a few years ago). The Association monitors OSHA enforcement actions and inspection trends, and comments on proposed regulations that will affect the waste and recycling industry.

Safety Reference Documents

National Waste & Recycling Association Safety Strategy 

National Waste & Recycling Association Safety Strategy Implementation Plan

Site Safety Best Practices for MRFs, Landfills and Transfer Stations