HR Administration

Trash, Recyclable Collector Deaths Spike in 2011

By Jim Johnson

Sep. 20, 2012

One of America’s most dangerous jobs, being a trash and recyclable collector, just got deadlier.

On-the-job fatalities among trash and recycling collectors dramatically increased last year, making the job the fourth most dangerous in the land, according to statistics released minutes ago by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The much-anticipated numbers show that 34 waste and recycling collectors died on the job in 2011.

That compares with 26 such fatalities in 2010, according to the BLS.

Refuse and recyclable material collectors had a fatal injury rate of 41.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers last year, the government reports. That compares with a rate of 29.8 per 100,000 in 2010.

This year’s numbers push the occupation three notches higher on the most deadly list compared to 2010’s No. 7 ranking.

The trash and recycling collection business has been ranked among the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the country for years as safety has become an increasingly important focus of the industry.

Fishermen and related workers again top the list of highest fatalities per capita, with a fatal injury rate of 121.2 per 100,000 workers. A total of 40 people in working in that category died in 2010.

Aircraft pilots and flight engineers ranked just head of trash and recyclable collectors at No. 3, with an injury rate of 57.0 per 100,000 workers and a total of 72 on-the-job deaths in 2011.

Jim Johnson writes for Waste and Recycling News, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, email

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