Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Hazards Of Garbage Collection

This article ran as a follow-up to the death of Eva Barrientos who was crushed by a garbage truck compacter Monday (see below)
The truck, known as an EZ Pack, is the type of front-loader that killed a sanitation worker, Eva Barrientos, 41, in Brooklyn on Monday. Ms. Barrientos, a mother of three, had apparently tried to clear some trash that had jammed the truck's compactor.

She was crushed by a lever lifting a steel trash bin and became perhaps the first female sanitation worker in the city to be killed on the job.

City garbage collectors interviewed on the street yesterday called Ms. Barrientos's death unnerving and sad. But a reminder of how dangerous the job is? None called it that.

"Maybe to the public it's a reminder, but anyone who works this job is reminded every day how dangerous it is," said Andy Roth, 54, who was loading trash bags into the back of a garbage truck yesterday morning on Manhattan Avenue near 103rd Street.

"I guess people don't realize: you have reckless drivers racing by you all the time," said Mr. Roth, a Staten Island resident with 19 years on the job. "You have all kinds of things in these black trash bags, and if you're loading bag after bag into the truck you can easily get cut up by glass sticking out, or anything."


While Ms. Barrientos's death was believed to be the first to involve a female city sanitation worker on the job, other Sanitation Department employees have lost their lives to different causes. In 1996, a worker died after inhaling acidic fumes from a discarded container that burst.
Dangerous, hard and dirty work. Cold in the winter, hot in the summer. Guess that's why they make the big bucks.