Companies face the challenge of complying with government regulations and internal policies and procedures. Government regulations frequently change and are complex. Lack of compliance causes significant regulatory fines, lost productivity, bad publicity, increased workers compensation costs and loss of business. Adding to the challenge are union bargaining agreements, which are often long-term and restrictive with respect to defining job responsibilities and duties. Remaining compliant often requires changes in job responsibilities and duties, which results in conflicts from labor. Behavioral safety training with documentation is inconsistent in the solid waste industry.
Penalties Increase for High Hazard Industries
High hazard, waste management and related industries experienced an increase in OSHA and EPA penalties related to the increase in safety violations. A few examples of penalties include:
- In 2007, Federal OSHA completed 39,300 inspections, noted 88,800 violations and charged $92 million in penalties (up 20 percent).
- In 2007, Cal/OSHA completed 57,300 inspections, noted 124,900 violations and charged $70 million in penalties. Fifteen percent of the violations were cited as serious.
- In 2008, EPA Region 9 (CA, AZ, HI, NV and Pacific Islands) completed 1,024 inspections and noted 31 civil violations and charged the companies $6.8 million. California had 209 of the violations.
- In 2004, 15,588 CA employers had Ex-Mods over 125 and were subject to the “targeted inspection consultation fund” by Cal/OSHA. Amount assessed for these CA employers was more than $11 million.
- CA Air Resource Board levies high fines for emissions and diesel: e.g., $500K for diesel violations2 and $270K for emissions.
Solid Waste Management Industry Growing
The solid waste management industry provides a vital public service that ensures the health safety of citizens across the U.S. and the globe. Due to technology and advances in automated equipment, the waste-to-energy market has grown from $43 billion in 2001 to $52 billion in 2009 in the U.S. alone.
The global solid waste management industry is also growing. In 2006, there was approximately 2.02 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated worldwide. This is expected to increase as less wealthy nations develop since they will add to the world’s waste output. The total global MSW is expected to increase by 37.3 percent between 2007 and 2011.