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Dumpster Safety: Five Painful Mistakes Your Staff Members Could Make

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Many businesses use dumpsters to contain trash until their refuse collection service arrives. A large dumpster can safely hold a lot of waste, but many injuries, slips and falls occur because employees don't know how to use dumpsters safely. Find out how you can help your staff members stay safe by learning from the five following painful mistakes people sometimes make.

Holding the dumpster lid open by hand

Most dumpsters have a metal bar attached to the inside of the device that you can use to prop open the lid while you place trash bags inside the bin. Unfortunately, these bars can sometimes break off or bend, which means some staff members awkwardly hold open the dumpster with one hand and throw in a trash bag with the other.

Back, neck and shoulder injuries are all possible where people work in these awkward ways. Make sure your staff members report damaged dumpsters straight away, and contact your supplier if you need a replacement. If staff members must temporarily use the dumpster, make sure they open the lid completely, before carefully loading trash bags.

Unstable loading methods

One study noted that many people struggle to reach the lid of a dumpster. The average model's lid is around 55 inches from the ground, which can make it difficult for shorter people to reach up and lift the lid. Accordingly, some people use impromptu boxes, crates or bags to step on, so they can then load bags in the dumpster.

These methods are fraught with safety issues. Where you cannot equip the dumpster with a sturdy set of access steps, you should make alternative arrangements. For example, talk to your supplier about the possibility of a smaller dumpster. You may need more frequent collections, but at least your employees won't need to take risks when loading bags.

Bad handling methods

Staff members need to understand that there's more to loading a dumpster than just throwing a bag over your shoulder. The right lifting and handling methods are essential when loading a dumpster. Even a relatively small bag could cause an injury if handled incorrectly.

Common mistakes include:

  • Twisting as you lift, which can injure the lower spine
  • Failing to use your legs and buttocks to lift the load by crouching down to lift
  • Lifting heavy or bulky loads without help

Many lifting problems occur because staff members must handle trash bags that are too full. As such, everyone in the business must take steps to limit the amount of waste carried in a single trash bag. One way around this problem is to equip cleaners with smaller bags.

Manual compression

If the dumpster starts to fill up, it's tempting to push down the bags inside by hand to make room for more waste. This is a recipe for disaster. As your staff members push down on the waste, sharp items inside the bag can easily rip through the plastic causing laceration wounds.

Make sure staff members do not touch waste once somebody has loaded it in the dumpster. If the dumpster is full, contact your supplier to arrange a more frequent collection and/or consider a larger dumpster. You should also make sure staff members aren't throwing the wrong things in the dumpster. For example, are they recycling all your cardboard packaging?

Hosing down

Even if people are careful, liquid spills can still occur around the dumpster. Some liquids can create a slip hazard, so it's important that your people clean up any mess they make, but they shouldn't use a hose pipe for the task.

Spraying water around the dumpster can just create another hazard. A hose pipe will sometimes just spread certain substances like oil around. What's more, in cold weather, water from a hose pipe can also easily freeze, creating a larger slip hazard.

It's generally better to use spill cleanup materials (or sorbents) for this task. Natural inorganic sorbents like sand are cheap and can absorb up to 20 times their weight in oil. Alternatively, you may choose to buy a synthetic sorbent that can absorb over three times this amount. Talk to your dumpster supplier for more advice. Many of these companies also offer spill cleanup solutions to businesses.

Many businesses rely on a waste dumpster, but these simple devices can pose several safety risks. Make sure your staff members know how to use a dumpster safely, or you could end up dealing with a serious injury.