City praises garbage collectorsí safety record

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY ó The cityís garbage collectors have driven 316,500 miles in three years with one accident and four personal injuries, lower than seven other N.C. cities with similar populations.
The cityís risk manager, Richard Kelly, praised the Solid Waste Division employees and their boss, Manager Brian Moore, for their safety record and dedication to customer service.
ěIím so impressed,î Kelly told City Council Tuesday. ěThe employees are observant and careful.î
Moore is doing an ěexceptionally good job,î Kelly said, and solid waste employees are safely maneuvering some of the cityís largest equipment through congested areas.
Salisburyís division had one vehicular accident in three years, compared to an average of five for the seven similarly sized cities.
The total cost for Salisburyís accident was $2,841, while the other cities faced an average cost of $46,294 for their accidents, Kelly said.
Salisburyís four personal injuries in three years, including one hospitalization for heat exhaustion, cost an average of $1,956, compared to an average of $5,216 for the other cities. The statewide average for solid waste division personal injuries is 10 per year, Kelly said.
Working in the solid waste division is the third most potentially hazardous job in city government, he said, after working for fire and police departments.
The division uses a program called Tailgate Safety, including monthly meetings led by different employees featuring a video and instruction in areas such as winter driving and preventing back injury, Moore said.
Employees are recognized each month for safety, including several at the City Council meeting who received plaques.
Mayor Susan Kluttz called the department ěexceptionalî and said council members regularly receive compliments about not only good service but kindness of the solid waste employees.
ěThey are the best ambassadors the city has,î said Mayor Pro Tem Maggie Blackwell, who rode along on a garbage truck a few years ago for a freelance story she wrote for the Post.
While not every household will need fire or police protection, every resident needs solid waste service, Blackwell said.
ěTheir work ethic is unbelieveable,î she said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.