Broken Arrow emphasizes benefits of earlier trash pick-up times for workers in extreme heat

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — You might have noticed waste collection trucks coming down the block earlier this week in Broken Arrow. The city is halfway through the week for its adjusted trash and recycling pick-up schedule, which shifted to accommodate workers in the heat.

Broken Arrow announced last week it was adjusting their trash service to earlier pick-up times to help drivers beat the excessive heat this week.

With temperatures in the triple digits, Director of Solid Waste and Recycling for Broken Arrow Jerry Schuber Sr. said it’s important to do what they can for workers exposed to the heat to mitigate dangerous effects.

“Heat exhaustion is the big one, and heat stroke is the other,” said Schuber.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said there were 43 work-related deaths due to environmental heat exposure in 2019. From 2011 to 2019, environmental heat cases caused an average 38 fatalities per year, and an average of 2,700 cases with days away from work to recover from heat-related illnesses.

“When the heat index gets to be a certain height, you want to try to protect your workers,” said Schuber. “Make sure they’re hydrated ... make sure that they’re out of the heat as quick as you can get them out.”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said when the heat index is more than 80 degrees, serious occupational heat-related illnesses become more common, especially when workers are performing heavy and strenuous work, without access to water or shade, or working in direct sunlight.

That’s why this week the city has asked citizens to have their trash and recycling bins on the curb the night before their pick-up day, so workers can complete work earlier and minimize their time out in the afternoon heat. Pick up usually starts at 7 a.m., but Schuber said they’re starting about an hour earlier this week.

He said this is a standard operating procedure in the solid waste industry.

“We try to take care of our employees and make sure that they’re protected, and this is a great way to do it,” Schuber said. “Making sure that they can get through the day without being overheated or exhausted.”

The city also said they are thankful to citizens for rolling with the earlier pick ups and getting their bins out on time.

“Social media has just been lit up with people who say we really appreciate you and thank you for all your hard work,” said Schuber. “We really appreciate the people who live Broken Arrow for that.”