At our law firm, we represent employees who have been injured on the job. We help them in their application for workers’ compensation benefits, which are available regardless of who was at fault for the injury. We also conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the work injury to determine whether any third parties may be liable for our client’s harm and if so, may advise him or her about the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
In this important work, we hope to improve worker safety and see working conditions improve across a variety of industries and workplaces. One dangerous industry that deserves improvement is garbage and recycling collection.
House Bill 531 and Senate Bill 445
The Maryland legislature just passed a bill unanimously in both houses that would extend safe passing requirements to vehicles when they pass stopped garbage and recycling trucks. This bill is part of a national push for protecting garbage workers through “Slow Down to Get Around” legislation.
As of April 18, Waste Dive, an industry publication, reported that such bills had already passed in 17 other states. Citing the Solid Waste Association of North America or SWANA, fatalities involving the waste industry went up almost 20 percent in 2017, with “almost all” of these happening in the U.S. Of these, 38 were employees and 94 were members of the public.
Of these 38 workers, 23 died on “collection routes.” The article notes that worker deaths had a variety of causes, including falling from vehicles and being hit by vehicles.
The Maryland bill would (among other things) require that a driver when overtaking a stopped recycling or waste collection truck signal and make a lane change away from the collection truck or, if that is not possible, slow down to a reasonable speed when passing the truck in the near lane. Failure to follow this law would be a misdemeanor, violation of which could bring a fine of up to $500.
As of this writing on April 19, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s website does not indicate whether he plans to sign the bill.