Two Maine waste collection workers were recently burned when a container of hydrochloric acid burst, prompting industry leaders to remind consumers to properly dispose of hazardous materials.

The Casella Waste Systems employees collecting trash in Dayton, in York County, were hospitalized on Oct. 26 for chemical burns after a container filled with hydrochloric acid burst and caused a fume cloud, the Solid Waste Association of North America said this week. The workers are expected to make full recoveries.

“Waste collection and disposal is among the most dangerous jobs in the United States and Canada. It is critical that residents and industry professionals work together to make safety the number one priority to avoid incidents like this,” David Biderman, CEO and executive director of the association, said in a statement.

Waste collection ranks as the fifth most hazardous occupation in the United States, with about 44 deaths per 100,000 workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. Collection workers are twice as likely to be injured on the job than other workers.

John W. Casella, chairman and CEO of Casella Waste Systems, called on customers to do their part to protect workers.

“Safety is the top priority for all of our people. Everyday, regardless of circumstances, our people are providing an essential service that ensures public and environmental health and safety,” he said in a statement. “It is imperative that our customers and communities continue to play an active role in helping to ensure everyone’s safety. We believe these workers will make speedy and full recoveries, but this incident serves as a reminder that there are specific times and places for residents to dispose of hazardous waste.”

The Solid Waste Association of North America recommends residents contact local municipal or waste management staff with questions about how to properly dispose of materials. Hazardous waste and chemicals should not be placed at the curb for collection, according to the association.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: