ArticleIt's time for Ontario to require drivers to slow down and move over for waste collection workers. see more
Waste collection workers have one of the most dangerous jobs. Every day on the road they face the risk of being seriously injured or even killed by a distracted or impatient driver.
Last December, a Wisconsin city mourned the loss of a sanitation worker and local pastor who was struck by a Mustang that crashed into the back of a municipal garbage truck while he was collecting recyclables. According to FOX6 Now, the worker was found pinned between the car and the back of the truck before being taken to a local hospital where he later died from his injuries.
Closer to home, a worker in 2012 was struck by a Sport Utility Vehicle while collecting garbage in Ottawa and later died from his injuries. According to CTV News, the worker, who was 46 years old at the time of the accident, had just gotten engaged before he lost his life.
Incidents, like these, are tragically part of a larger problem. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States found in its 2015 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary that refuse and recyclable material collection, as an occupation, had the fifth highest fatal work injury rate. In 2015, 33 waste collectors were killed on the job – a 22% increase from the previous year.
Addressing the risks faced by waste collection workers
The risk is real. That’s why it has been addressed by many jurisdictions across North America, including British Columbia, with new laws to require drivers to slow down and move over for waste collection workers and vehicles. Ontario, however, has not yet taken action.
It’s been a decade and a half since the Ontario government passed legislation to make it mandatory to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles. The Highway Traffic Act was amended again in 2015 to extend the same protections to tow-truck drivers in the province. The penalties for breaking this law are serious. Drivers can receive a fine of $400 to $2,000 and three demerit points for their first infraction. While enforcement remains essential, this legal change has sent a clear message to drivers that the safety of roadside workers must take priority. Unfortunately, waste collectors still do not enjoy the same protections in Ontario.
British Columbia, by contrast, protects all roadside workers. In 2014, the B.C. government strengthened its Motor Vehicle Act to require drivers to slow down and move over for “all vehicles stopped alongside the road that have flashing red, blue or yellow lights.” This legislative update not only improved safety but also simplified traffic rules for drivers.
North American standard on safety for the sector
South of the border, more states continue to move forward on this issue. Last September, according to Waste Dive, New York became the 12th state to pass a law to require drivers to slow down and get around garbage trucks, and Kentucky became the 13th to pass a similar bill to protect waste collection workers.
With so many jurisdictions adopting this sensible reform, there’s no reason that Ontario should be any different. We believe roadside workers deserve the same protections no matter where they live or what uniform they wear.
That is why the OWMA is calling for Ontario to bring its traffic laws into line with what is becoming the standard for roadside safety in North America. The time has now come for our province to pass a slow down, move over law for waste collection workers.
These changes will provide a safer working environment for waste collectors and help ensure they can safely go home to their families after a long-day on the job.
Justine Stewart posted an articleOntario Making It Easier for Businesses to Buy Green Vehicles see more
Ontario is helping businesses buy low-carbon vehicles and technologies that reduce emissions and foster sustainable development -- and the province is seeking public input. This investment is part of Ontario's
Climate Change Action Plan and is funded by proceeds from the province's cap on pollution and carbon market.
The new program will provide rebates towards the purchase of alternative-fuel vehicles and fuel-saving technologies, making it more affordable for local businesses to own and operate greener vehicles. Eligible vehicles and devices being considered under the program include electric and natural gas-powered trucks, aerodynamic devices, anti-idling devices and trailer refrigeration units.
The program will encourage more businesses to make the switch to low-carbon vehicles to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, a sector that generates about a third of Ontario's total greenhouse gas emissions.
ArticleMTO doesn't see the need to update Ontario's traffic laws to protect waste collection workers. see more
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation responded this month to the OWMA’s call to require drivers to slow down and move over for waste collection vehicles with their flashing lights on, telling a local newspaper in Hamilton that the government isn’t considering updating the province’s traffic laws to protect frontline workers in Ontario’s waste management sector.
Transportation Ministry spokesperson, Bob Nichols, told the Stoney Creek News that Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act “reflects the need of emergency vehicles and tow truck drivers to work in dangerous, high speed and uncontrolled road side situations that are generally not representative of those faced by other users of flashing lights.”
As anyone in the sector can see, the comments from the Ministry demonstrate a serious lack of understanding about the challenges waste collection workers face on a daily basis, including working on rural highways.
The OWMA has followed up with the Ministry to seek clarification on the comments and will continue to highlight the importance of strengthening protections for waste collection workers, following two successful news conferences recently held by the association.
The first news conference was on the National Day of Mourning, Friday, April 28, at Emterra Group’s office in Elmira. It gave the OWMA the opportunity to speak with the media about the growing trend across North America to pass slow down, move over laws while highlighting the association’s support for Harris’s private member’s bill, which would require drivers to slow down and move over for waste collection vehicles and snow plows with their flashing lights on.
The second news conference was on Friday, May 5, at Waste Connections of Canada’s transfer station in Hamilton. There, the association and Waste Connections’ representative, Dominic Evangelista, stressed the importance of providing the safest possible working environment for waste collection workers.
The news coverage from the two events is below:
Ontario MPP wants to broaden ‘slow down, move over’ law
Ontario’s waste management association gets behind "Slow down, Move over" bill by Tory MPP
Harris proposes Slow Down, Move Over to protect waste management and construction workers on roads
ArticleOWMA in Elmira with MPP Harris to discuss Slow Down, Move Over bill. see more
Ontario Waste Management Association Board Director Paulina Leung will join with Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris on the National Day of Mourning (Friday, April 28) to highlight the need to amend Ontario’s traffic laws to require drivers to slow down and move over for waste management workers on the job.
Location: Emterra Group’s facility at 35 Earl Martin Drive in Elmira, Ont.
Date: Friday, April 28, 2017 (National Day of Mourning)
Time: 1:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Paulina Leung, Director of the Board at the Ontario Waste Management Association and Vice President of Corporate Strategy & Business Development at Emterra Group
Michael Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga
Lance Parcher, Operations Manager, Emterra Group, Elmira