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5 Garbage Truck Safety Tips to Implement Right Now

People don’t often realize just how dangerous it is to be a garbage collector. If you can imagine it, a driver has dealt with it, all while operating one of the most challenging and complicated vehicles on the road.

That’s why every waste hauler knows that garbage truck safety training is essential. Here are some key fundamentals you can implement to keep your employees productive and safe.

1. Hire safe drivers, train them well, and take care of them on the road.

Hiring knowledgeable drivers and providing all employees with thorough safety training is the foundation of a safe environment. You should always ensure that your drivers are mentally and physically prepared for the day before they get in the truck. Encourage them to stay hydrated on the road and take regular breaks as scheduled.

2. Protective gear is non-negotiable.

SWANA (the Solid Waste Association of North America) offers guidelines on the required PPE that drivers and collectors should wear, including reflective vests, gloves, goggles, masks, and protective headwear.

Employees should also wear highly visible colors and non-slip footwear. Note that shoes with spikes or cleats are prohibited. Also, encourage your crew to protect themselves from injury by wearing back supports and joint wraps if needed.

3. Establish a pre-route checklist.

Do a pre-route truck check to ensure it’s DOT compliant and ready to go. Walk the perimeter to check tires and hydraulics for leaks. Test mirrors, lights, turn signals, and other electronics before getting on the road.

Anything requiring repairs or attention should be noted on an inspection checklist.

Now is also a good time for your drivers to analyze the route to plan for any challenging or out-of-the-ordinary situations and find ways to avoid backing up if possible.

4. Follow the rules of the road diligently.

Every driver knows they must wear a seatbelt, put their cell phone away, check their mirrors for blind spots, and maintain safe speeds while on the road.

But garbage truck drivers and collectors must follow a long list of safety guidelines in addition to the basics:

  • Guides should be well trained and reliable and stay in the cab as much as possible. When outside, there should be a clear line of eye contact between the driver and guide at all times.
  • No riding on the step if the truck is traveling more than 1/8 mile, going more than ten mph, or backing up. Get on and off the vehicle only when it’s at a complete standstill, and always use the steps.
  • When backing up, always GOAL (get out and look); once you’ve left the cab and established that the coast is clear, get back in and begin backing up immediately. Use the lowest gear and back up as slowly as possible. Beeping your horn as you back up is a standard best practice, as is leaving the driver’s window down to listen for people and cars.
  • Always maintain visual contact with any collectors outside; stop the truck immediately if you break the line of sight.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings—not just while driving but while collecting and parking, too.

5. Utilize advanced technology systems.

Fleet Telematics, blind-spot detectors, advanced emergency braking systems, and forward collision warning systems are just a few tech features that garbage trucks carry to keep drivers, collectors, and customers safe and sound.

Luckily, you don’t have to purchase a brand-new truck to take advantage of this cutting-edge tech with garbage truck rentals from Big Truck Rental. Check out our wide inventory of vehicles from industry-leading manufacturers, available with flexible short- and long-term rental agreements to meet your company’s needs.


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