A garbage collector is someone who works either for the municipal government or for a private waste management company. Garbage collectors usually work in pairs, picking up and removing waste, recyclable goods, or yard debris from residential neighbourhoods, commercial business centres, and public parks. Garbage collectors serve a vital role in our society by helping to manage waste, which if allowed to build up, could pose enormous health and environmental issues.
What does a Garbage Collector do?
Garbage collectors need to be in fairly good shape, as they often need to lift heavy bags of garbage, green waste and compost, furniture, recyclable objects and materials, and other miscellaneous items. When working in pairs, the driver's job is to navigate through the streets and operate the hydraulic lift; the other worker's job is to step out at each stop and attach the garbage containers to the lift. In the case of recycling containers, the garbage collector will scan the contents and remove any items that are inappropriate.
Some garbage trucks are able to pick up large dumpsters without the help of another person. The driver simply pulls up to the dumpster, drops the lift, and uses levers to pick up and dump the load. The waste is dumped into the back of a garbage truck and then driven to the appropriate disposal location (a landfill, recycling plant, or compost station).
Garbage collectors that work for private waste removal services, or hauling services, will remove waste that requires special handling due to toxicity or size. This type of waste cannot be disposed of like regular waste, therefore businesses will contract a hauling service where the garbage collectors are specifically trained to handle hazardous materials.
Garbage collection can be a very dangerous and unpleasant occupation. Hazards include falling objects from overloaded containers, broken glass, syringes, caustic chemicals, asbestos; inhaling dust, smoke, and fumes; diseases from solid waste, dog attacks, poor weather conditions, traffic accidents, and odours so foul that they can make the garbage collector physically sick.
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What is the workplace of a Garbage Collector like?
A garbage collector may be employed by a private waste disposal company or by the city public works department, and is employed to drive or to be a helper on a garbage truck or a recycling truck. The work is manual, whether driving the truck, operating the hydraulic system, or physically depositing trash into the truck if there is no hydraulic equipment.
A garbage collector is constantly exposed to weather because much of the work is performed outdoors. They pick up garbage each day in rain, snow, sleet and the summer heat. Most garbage collectors work during early morning hours, and occasionally need to interact with the public.
It is a hallmark of modern times that instead of dumping our garbage wherever we see fit – and spreading disease – we have garbage collectors pick up the trash and take it away from towns and cities to more remote waste-management facilities.