Home > Material Handling > Reducing Injuries Related to Moving Waste Bins: A New Reality

Cover Picture credit CTV news Toronto A 51-year-old non-profit housing custodian received life-threatening head injuries in 2014 when he lost control of the dumpster he was navigating down a ramp, he tripped and fell and the bin ran over and crushed him.

Cover Picture credit CTV news Toronto A 51-year-old non-profit housing custodian received life-threatening head injuries in 2014 when he lost control of the dumpster he was navigating down a ramp, he tripped and fell and the bin ran over and crushed him, and eventually killed him.

While you are working toward zero waste and looking to save money in the process, one thing you may ignore is the genuine potential for an injury to your on-site custodian related to moving totes and bins both within and to and from your site’s waste and recycling room. The cost of injuries in the workplace can lead to lost time for your valued on-site custodian and an increase in your WCB rates, as well as to increases in the general WCB rate classification.

Often, an on-site custodian is expected to move fully loaded totes and bins daily or weekly – usually on a sloped surface – either to reposition empty ones in their place or to move the bins outside for servicing. Food waste totes can be up to 64 gallons (242 litres) in volume, and can weigh, in the extreme case, up to 650 pounds (272 kilograms) if loaded with wet organics. If organics are removed from the waste stream, a large and loaded steel four- yard bin can weigh over 1,900 pounds (863 kilograms). A 3-yard compactor receiving bin can weigh up to 4,425 pounds or 2 MT!

The weight transfer from tilting a fully loaded organics tote is variable and happens extremely quickly, meaning that not only a messy accident, but also a serious injury, can occur. Pulling a muscle from the extreme effort involved in tugging fully loaded two- to four-yard waste containers is a serious potential problem, as these containers are difficult to move and turn. Another type of accident can occur when the handler loses control of a waste container, and the container strikes a nearby object.

You have three main options when it comes to dealing with moving containers in your waste and recycling room:

1)  Your on-site custodian can re-position all totes and waste bins by hand;

2)  You can contract out the movement of waste totes and bins to qualified individuals using the proper equipment;

3)  You can purchase the proper equipment for your on-site custodian to do the job properly and safely.

Let’s discuss each option:

Require Your Custodian to Manually Position Containers

Requiring your on-site custodian to manually position fully loaded containers is the least desirable option. As it is important to consider how to keep your custodian uninjured, particularly as they age, it may be necessary to modify your waste management tools and service. To minimize any potential for injury, you may be able to replace a steel waste container with a plastic two- to four-yard container, thus removing up to half the weight of an empty container – up to 350 pounds off! With organics totes, you can request the smaller 32-gallon tote, instead of the larger 64-gallon tote. In both cases, you can increase how often your bins are serviced to lighten the load. These simple but necessary safety measures for reducing potential for injury do end up adding significant costs to the seemingly low-cost option of requiring your on-site custodian to reposition bins and totes.

Contract out the Movement of Waste Totes and Bins

There may be third-party services that can move your totes and bins to the curbside for service. Alternatively, your waste hauler may offer this service or even contract it out themselves. Finally, your municipality may offer this service, or one like it, for little to no cost. Choosing to contract out the service can be quite expensive, but still may be your best option, especially if you want to reduce the potential of injury to your on-site custodian, if you lack the time for your on-site custodian to do this, or if you have slopes and bad weather to deal with. Contracting out the repositioning of totes and bins for service still leaves you facing potential injuries related to your custodian moving those heavy totes and bins within your waste and recycling room.

Purchase Equipment for Your Custodian

If you choose to allow the on-site custodian to control the movement of bins and totes safely and efficiently, your best option is to buy an electric tug. These units can be as small as 2.5 square feet, but will still allow your custodian to safely and effectively move all your waste bins, including moving them on ramps that may be wet or snowy.

When using an electric tug, you should always walk forward with the bin behind you. Ensure the casters are fixed on the wheels furthest from you, and that the wheels connecting to the tug are free to swivel. By using this device properly, you eliminate nearly any chance of injury to a custodian or potential damage to the building or to nearby cars. By taking full control over the movement of the bins with such a device, you can minimize the time bins spend outside the waste and recycling room during servicing, which in turn minimizes any inconvenience to residents.

In summary, if your on-site custodian needs to reposition heavy containers between servicings, your best option is to use an electric tug. If your on-site custodian doesn’t move those heavy containers between servicings, then your best option is either to use an electric tug or to have a third party move those containers.

Ultimately it is never desirable to have your custodian move the bins unassisted, as you don’t want injuries! Lost workdays and increased WCB costs are also mitigated when choosing either to use a bin tug or to contract out who moves those containers – both are cost-effective when you take the high risk of injury into account.

Article was written by Michael Solkshinitz

The XeroWaste V-Move electric walk-along tugs allow your on- site custodian to safely move fully-loaded or empty totes and wheeled waste and recycling bins, up ramps and even in the snow, with ease!

Benefits of the XeroWaste V-Move tugs:

  • Reduce injuries and WCB costs. We all expect the on-site manager to move heavy containers, but without a thought of how heavy they are and about how easy it is for them to pull a muscle and injure themselves causing thousands of dollars in WCB costs. Now, you can have them safely and easily move all your waste and recycling bins with the electric V-Move.
  • Reduce the time the bins are away from the waste and recycling room, minimizing inconveniences for residents and minimizing clean-up.
  • Minimize potential damage to buildings and vehicles, minimizing your insurance costs and claims, by ensuring your on-site manager has full control of the bins with the XeroWaste V-Move.
  • You can often SAVE money and your employee can be more efficient by using the XeroWaste V-Move, rather than contracting a 3rd party to move containers to the curb for servicing by your hauler.
  • The XeroWaste V-Move takes up a small footprint, is low maintenance and runs quietly and efficiently on battery power.

See our V-Move waste bin tugs: V-Move Dumpster Movers or Bin Tugs


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