Safety tips for garbage truck drivers

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TORONTO, Ont. — The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) promotes a series of safety tips to help protect garbage truck drives and the public in general.

Its “five to stay alive” stress the need to wear personal protective equipment, especially high-visibility vests and/or outerwear; never using a cell phone or text while driving the truck or at a disposal facility; not riding on the step if the truck is backing or going forward more than 16 km/h or .3 km; always complying with safety belt rules; and keeping to speed limits and not rushing.

When it comes to best practices when backing waste collection vehicles, it recommends these 10 steps:

  1. Determine you are fit to drive — Be mentally and physically prepared and properly trained
  2. Conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection — Take 10 to 15 minutes to check vehicle
  3. Plan ahead and avoid backing if possible — If you must back, turn on driver’s side
  4. No helpers on the riding step — Helpers should be in cab or visible to driver
  5. Get Out and Look (GOAL) — Leave the cab to check surroundings
  6. Start backing within a few seconds after check — Conditions change quickly
  7. Use a guide or spotter — Should be reliable and well-trained and visible to the driver
  8. Blow the horn — Thoughtfully alert those around you before backing and have your window down to better hear surroundings
  9. Utilize technology — If equipped, use back-up cameras and other resources
  10. Back slowly and cautiously – Use the lowest possible gear or idle speed and do not accelerate.



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John G. Smith is Newcom Media's vice-president - editorial, and the editorial director of its trucking publications -- including Today's Trucking,, and Transport Routier. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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