Waste Management Settles 2012 Heat-Fatality Case with OSHA for $5,000

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration reached a settlement agreement with Waste Management of New Jersey Inc. to abate violations involving excessive heat hazards that resulted in the death of a temporary worker in June 2012.

The settlement resolves litigation that began after OSHA's June investigation led to a citation for one serious violation of the agency's general duty clause. A temporary worker of Waste Management, employed as a garbage collector, died while picking up trash on a collection route in Hopewell Borough.

The serious violation involved workers exposed to excessive heat conditions while performing outdoor trash collection and the lack of a work rule in the company's heat management program that addressed adequate fluid consumption. A serious violation occurs when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"We are encouraged that Waste Management has agreed to take the necessary steps to prevent further heat-related tragedies," said Paula Dixon-Roderick, director of OSHA's Marlton Area Office. "OSHA is committed to ensuring, that in the hot summer months, employers and outdoor workers understand that drinking plenty of water and taking frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas is incredibly important."

An employer's heat stress management program should include, but not be limited to:

  • A work/rest regimen that allows workers to become acclimated to extreme heat
  • Work scheduled during cooler periods of the day
  • Providing cool water and encouraging consumption of five to seven ounces every 15 to 20 minutes, rather than relying on thirst
  • Establishment of a screening program to identify workers with health conditions aggravated by exposure to heat stress
  • Training for all workers, including temporary workers, contractors and part-time workers, regarding the symptoms of heat-induced illness and its prevention

As part of the settlement agreement, Waste Management, which provides residential and commercial trash collection services nationwide, has also agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty.

Information about OSHA's campaign to prevent heat-related illnesses among outdoor workers can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/heat.

OSHA also has a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. It is available for download on Android-based platforms and the iPhone, at http://www.osha.gov/heatapp.

App of the Week: OSHA Heat-Safety Tool