Sanitation workers have tough jobs, too

Greensboro’s police officers and firefighters should absolutely be commended for keeping our community safe and livable. We rely daily on their professionalism and bravery as they face danger and unexpected challenges in the line of duty.

Yet, how many of us are aware of the dangers faced by sanitation workers?

Their job involves close work with huge trucks and machinery that can crush a worker or sever a limb, as well as hazardous materials, passing vehicles and more.

According to the N.C. Rate Bureau, refuse/recycling collectors have a liability risk of 15.2. This compares to rates of 4.39 for police officers and 7.09 for firefighters. Based on 2009 numbers compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, refuse collection is the seventh-deadliest job.

But we take it for granted that our trash and recyclables will be disappear on schedule, regardless of bad weather or road conditions.

Without these courageous, dedicated workers, we’d be stuck with more than stinky garbage and unsightly clutter. Disease, rodents, insects and other hazards would soon invade our neighborhoods.

As the Greensboro City Council plans the budget for the coming year, let’s be sure our refuse/recycling collectors are fairly compensated with a living wage of $15/hour for their critically important service.