Virginia employees who work in composing operations can turn to a set of guidelines for safety called "Five to Stay Alive" that was released by the Solid Waste Association of North America. A dynamic work environment, heavy machinery and the physical nature of working in this industry means that safety precautions are important to prevent injury and death.
The executive director and CEO of SWANA said that with an increasing number of communities aiming to reduce food waste and yard waste, safety information and training is becoming more important than ever. The industry of recycling and solid waste collection is fifth in worker fatality rates. One specialist in the industry who helped work on the guidelines said that while supervisors and compost operators received a good deal of training on odor management, process control and composting, safety is just as critical. The executive director of the U.S. Composting Council agreed that regardless of the task, safety has to always be the first priority.
"Five to Stay Alive" based its guidelines on common dangers in the industry. There are flyers and posters available online to help reinforce the safety guidelines. There are both English and Spanish versions of the resources.
A person who is injured in an accident at work or becomes ill because of exposure to hazardous materials is usually eligible for workers' compensation. If an employer does not help provide information about workers' compensation eligibility and filing a claim, the injured employee might want to talk to an attorney. An employer might not know an employee's rights or may tell injured or sick employees that they are not eligible. There is a time limit for filing the claim, so the employee should not delay the process.