Most businesses and job sites have a dumpster on the property. Without them, rubbish in the office would get out of hand. They are taken for granted, unless perhaps a garbage strike happens. But using this essential tool safely is more involved than simply tossing in bags of garbage and paying your share of the utilities each month.
Accidents and even fires can happen in and around dumpsters. Stress injuries can occur if a worker throws the trash in improperly. And pests can take up residence in them. Following a sound health and safety plan will help you dump your garbage without the worry over injuries.
Here are a few tips for tossing garbage into a dumpster safely:
- wear safety equipment including eye protection and gloves
- if sharp or abrasive material is regularly thrown out, consider wearing a hard hat and work boots
- open the lid carefully, especially on windy days, using both hands
- keep your hands away from pinch points
- don’t overload the bags and boxes to prevent shoulder and back injuries from too much weight
If an item is heavy, get help lifting it. If an item is cumbersome, break it down so it is easier to maneuver.
Keeping it Clean
Pests love dumpsters. If you don’t want an infestation, plan on regular cleanup around the outside. At the same time, make sure there is nothing around the outside that can become a trip hazard. Keep ample space open around the dumpster so people have plenty of room to maneuver when getting rid of trash.
Put food waste in sealed plastic bags. This removes temptations for pests. And always close the lid of the dumpster securely after getting rid of trash.
Never try to get more in by standing on trash in the dumpster to compact it. Never use your hands to try to stuff more in. If you need to shift the garbage around, use a step ladder and a long pole.
You can’t always be sure what people are putting in trash bags and it is possible for a fire to start in the dumpster. Never try to fight it yourself. Always call the fire department. Never put hazardous waste in the dumpster. Never smoke around one. Just in case, it’s a good idea to store a fire extinguisher close by, a basic element of a business’s health and safety plan.
Inventing a Better Dumpster
To cite one example of safety awareness and hazard mitigation around dumpster safety, a physical therapist and ergonomics specialist joined with members of the Department of Biological and Agriculture Engineering at the University of California at Davis to develop a better dumpster. Members of the large custodial department at the University were suffering from a number of injuries, including impingement syndrome (involving the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles), shoulder injury, neck pain and back stress.
The people-friendly dumpster they designed is 39 inches tall, not the standard 55 inches. Consequently, it is better suited to most people’s height. They also designed the Dumpster Prop, an adjustable, lightweight device that holds the lid open easily without putting them in danger.
Dumpster safety doesn’t need to be complicated. As the faculty at UC Davis discovered, a little safety awareness–and ingenuity!–goes a long way toward keeping people safe on the job!
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